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Transit of Venns, December 6, 1882, from ingress to sunset. 
See pp. 86, 110. 







EEV. S. j; JOHNSON, M.A., F.R.A.S, 






f ' » 






TT was originally my intention to bring out two 
works; one, a description of eclipses, past and fu- 
ture; the other, a cycle of celestial objects coming 
within the range of a 4- inch telescope, such an instru- 
ment being common with amateurs, and a very useful 
size, large enough to shew what is worth examining, 
and not too large to prevent portability. On after 
thoughts, my plan was to abridge both works, and 
publish them under the title of " Eclipses, Past 
and Future; with General Hints for Observing the 

With the solar eclipse of 1870 a considerable in- 
terest was kindled as to such plisenomena, not a little 
correspondence passed on the subject in the scientific 
journals, and there were several inquiries about the 
next solar eclipse that would be total in this country. 
This led to certain communications to the " Times" by 
Mr. Hind in 1871 and 1872. In the first part of the 
following little work, notices of the eclipses are col- 
lected from the earliest days to the present time. 
A selection may be made from them by those who 
wish to compute from the tables of Leverrier and 
Hansen. All the eclipses in the " Saxon Chronicle " 


are also stated, and the results of calculations I have 
made respecting them. No description of these eclipses 
seems, hitherto, to have been published. An account 
of the eclipses for the next forty years will be found, 
commencing on page 83, and of those of the sun for 
a long future period. The second part contains brief 
notes on the planets, meteorology, &c. ; double-stars 
and nebulae, within reach of small telescopes, such as 
many are possessed of, but use little, from disinclina- 
tion to wade through Smyth's "Cycle,'' and similar 
long works. It is my hope that this little book may 
fall into the hands of such persons. 


UrxoN-HELioNs Rectory, 
Crediton, Devon. 
January 19, 1874. 




Utility and Interest of observing Eclipses . . 1 

The Most Ancient Eclipses, including those of 
Ptolemy . 8 

The Most Remarkable Eclipses of Antiquity : those 
OF Thales, Larissa, Xerxes, Thucydides, Pelopidas, 
Arbela, Agathocles, Pydna, J. C^SAR, Herod . 13 

Other less important Eclipses in the years b.c. . 22 

Eclipses in each century of the Christian Era, to 
the present date 24 

The Present Prospects of the Amateur ... 69 

Cueiosities in Lunar Eclipses, Bright and Black 
Total Eclipses, Horizontal Eclipses, The Return 
OP Cycles 72 




CuEious Phenomenon in the slightly total Solar 
Eclipse, June 29, 1927 . . ' . . .82 

Future Eclipses 83 


A Cycle of Celestial Objects for a Small Tele- 
scope 95 

The Sun 97 

Mercury . .98 

Venus 102 

The Earth Ill 

The Moon 115 

Mars 118 

The Minor Planets 120 

Jupiter . 121 

Saturn 124 

Uranus and Neptune 125 

The Aurora 126 

Meteors 128 

Double Stars and Nebula 131 


T'HE word 'eclipse' is derived from the Greek eKkeiyln^, 
a failing or fainting, as the moon, when she got 
immersed in the earth's shadow, was imagined by- 
many of the ancients to be swooning away. Perhaps 
there is nothing in astronomy that affords to the gene- 
rality of mankind such ocular demonstration of the 
truth of the science, as the agreement of the prediction 
of an eclipse of the sun or moon with its appearance in 
the heavens, as to time, degree of obscuration, and other 
circumstances connected with the phsenomenon. Al- 
though the earth and the other planets perform their 
respective periods round the sun in nearly equal times, 
yet, from the elliptical figures of their orbits, and their 
mutual attractions, their motions are far from being equa- 
ble ; and when these bodies are viewed from the earth, 
the inequality becomes still more apparent, as, in that 
case, they are sometimes direct, sometimes stationary, 
and at other times retrograde. But, as regards our satel- 
lite the moon, her nearness to the earth renders the in- 
equalities of her orbit more apparent than those of any 
other heavenly body : she has, besides, a considerable 
parallax, which causes her place in the heavens, as seen 
from the surface of the earth, to be very different from 
that in her orbit, or when viewed from the centre 
of our globe. For these reasons, the computations of 


2 Introduction. 

eclipses, especially solar ones, are attended with con- 
siderable labour and difficulty. 

It has been ascertained, that if the latitude of the 
moon be less than 1° 23' at the time of new moon, 
there will be an eclipse of the sun ; and, if less than 
51' 57" at the time of full moon, there will be an 
eclipse of the moon. There cannot be less than two 
eclipses in any year, or more than seven; and we are 
unable to mention any year in which this maximum 
number was attained. We suppose the reader to be 
acquainted, more or less, with the theory of eclipses. 
It is not our design to enter here into a description of 
the periodical equations and secular equations of the 
moon's motions, simply to give a brief description of 
eclipses on record in ancient and mediaeval times, as 
such may prove of use to some for purposes of reference. 

In astronomy, eclipses of the moon are of great use 
for ascertaining the periods of her motions; in geo- 
graphy, the longitudes of places are found by eclipses, 
especially by those of the moon, as they only are of 
equal size and duration at all places where they are 
seen. In chronology, both solar and lunar eclipses 
serve to determine the time of a past event ; for there 
are so many particulars observable in each eclipse, with 
respect to its magnitude, the places where it is visible 
(if of the sun), and the time of day or night, that it is 
impossible there can be two solar eclipses, in the 
course of many ages, alike in all particulars. There 
is a degree of uncertainty attached to many early his- 
torical records. "When, however, a historian has men- 
tioned some fact as occurring coincidently with an 
eclipse, it is competent for astronomy to speak about 

Introduction. 3 

the date. For this purpose it is not necessary to 
employ the lengthened and intricate tables of the pre- 
sent day, unless we wish to ascertain the exact mile on 
the earth's surface where the limit of totality would 
pass. In the following calculations, the tables given 
in the Encyclopcedia Britannica, 8th edit., have been 
used. After trying them on a great number of 
known eclipses, the author was convinced they would 
answer well for the object he had in view. 

In less civilized ages, it is not to be wondered at 
that great solar eclipses should have caused consider- 
able alarm. It is well they did so, as the accounts we 
have of them are of great use in the recovery of the 
dates of ancient events. At the present day, many of 
the Hindoos, Chinese, &c., beat gongs, and raise the 
most hideous sounds, to drive away the great monster 
they fancy is devouring the sun or moon, when they 
see its face gradually eaten away by an eclipse. Even 
among cultivated nations, the effects of consternation 
are sometimes great on the occasion of a total eclipse 
of the sun. To give only one instance, we may men- 
tion the death of a woman in Iowa from fright, at that 
which took place there in the summer of 1869. A total 
solar eclipse still remains the grandest and most ap- 
palling sight in nature. The bursting forth of the 
stars in the daytime, the apparent descending of the 
sky like a black mantle, the sun surrounded by its 
corona, combine in forming a scene that can never be 
effaced from the memory of the beholders. In the 
present day, such phaenomena are of the greatest use, 
not merely for the correction or verification of our 
astronomical tables, but also for ascertaining the con- 

4 Introduction. 

stituents of the sun's atmosphere, and the nature of 
the gorgeous corona, with which he is surrounded 
during the total phase. When, therefore, a total solar 
eclipse takes place now, in any available or habitable 
part of the world, it is pretty sure to be observed with 
more or less care. In fact, we may say, that just what 
a grand review, or a great victory, the Derby-day, or 
a coronation, are to terrestrial folk, such is a great 
eclipse to the lover of astronomical lore. A few mo- 
ments of total darkness are more precious to him than 
the most splendid illumination, or the most glorious 
fireworks which ever followed a royal marriage or an 
honourable peace. He leaves the limits of his obser- 
vatory, and neglects all his ordinary duties, to be pre- 
sent at such an extraordinary occurrence. He then 
expects to see, during two or three minutes of total 
darkness, phaenomena so interesting and so rare, that 
he takes his departure into distant lands, and runs the 
risk of cloudy skies and bad weather, so long as there 
is a chance of catching a glimpse of the sun and moon 
at the time of obscurity. The positions of the sun 
and moon are of the utmost consequence in the system 
of the world. The mariner depends on the latter body 
for information of his whereabouts, when far away 
from land and lighthouse. Apart, however, from this 
verification of theory, of which eclipses of the sun form 
the surest and simplest test, it may be added that the 
appearances which are observed when the moon is 
exactly between the sun and earth, and when it com- 
pletely cuts off the light of the great central luminary, 
are of such a curious character, that they are found de- 
serving of the most careful scrutiny. They give very 

Introduction, 5 

considerable information respecting the physical con- 
stitution of the sun, and of its atmosphere, of which 
we have gained much knowledge, within the last few 
years, by this means, and which phenomena, though 
not yet completely explained, may serve as data for 
future observers, exactly in the same manner as the 
observations of ancient eclipses, rudely given though 
they may be, serve as a test for the accuracy of the 
present tables of the sun and moon, and form a system 
of landmarks in all our chronological researches. The 
ancients used to foretell eclipses by means of the Chal- 
daean Saros, or period of 223 lunations, and by Meton's 
cycle of 19 years. By these means a good idea might 
be got of the lunar eclipses that were going to happen. 
As to solar ones, only the time in which they would 
take place in some part of the world could be men- 
tioned ; as the exact locality in which they fall cannot 
be foretold by cycles. 

We may trace forward the progress to accuracy in 
the tables for this purpose. Even the Burmese, Chinese, 
and other Oriental nations, have their methods for 
ascertaining the eclipses of the heavenly bodies. In 
the author's possession is a curious old book by Cypri- 
anus Leovitius, the Bohemian astronomer, who lived 
above three centuries ago. This gives drawings and 
descriptions of all the eclipses, for Augsburg, from 
1554 to 1606. (It also contains a figure and descrip- 
tion of the comet of 1556.) Leovitius mentions, at the 
commencement of his work, that he took the time of 
a total lunar eclipse on June 5, 1555, from the tables 
of George Purbach, and was " so deceived that it hap- 
pened more than half-an-hour too late.'' In the rooms 

6 Introduction. 

of the Royal Astronomical Society in London there 
is a curious map of the path of the total eclipse of 
1715, by Dr. Halley, in which he places London only 
just within the southern boundary of the total phase, 
and says it was not certain whether it would be total 
there. Observation proved it was total there for 3 min. 
11 sec, so the limit must have gone a considerable 
distance south of London. Passing on about half-a- 
century, we come to 1764, when an annular eclipse 
took place on a Sunday morning in April, which ex- 
cited considerable attention in England. A calcula- 
tion from the best lunar tables then extant, gave the 
north-west limit of the annular appearance to pass 
a few miles to the south-west of Greenwich. At Ox- 
ford, where it was expected the eclipse would have 
been just annular, the least distance of the solar cusps 
was found to be about two-sevenths of the whole cir- 
cumference of the sun. Mr. Murray, of Chatham, with 
a 12-foot telescope, found the eclipse barely annular 
at half-past ten, the light of the sun below the moon 
being but just visible, and scarcely the breadth of 
a hair in the telescope. It was hence inferred that 
the limit of the annulus passed over Rochester bridge. 
This will be sufficient to shew the progress that was 
made, as years rolled on, towards perfecting the tables 
of the sun's and moon's places. 

Tycho Brahe had an idea that the diameter of the 
moon could never exceed that of the sun, and con- 
sequently that there could never be a really total 
eclipse of the sun. He need not, therefore, have been 
so proud of his instruments, as he appears to have 
been, if one may judge from his Historia Celestis. 

Introduction. 7 

This idea about the diameters, there are persons who 
do not understand astronomy hold persistently at the 
present day. But the semi-diameter of the moon may 
be greater than the semi-diameter of the sun by about 
a minute of arc, as seen by us. 



'pHE earliest eclipse spoken of, is one in the reign of 
Chou-kang, in the twenty-second century before 
Christ, to which three or four different dates has 
been assigned, b.c. 2169, 2158, and 2127, Oct. 13, have 
been given as the date. On the last mentioned, I find 
an eclipse visible in China did occur, but I have not 
looked into the circumstances of it ^. 

The Chinese records make no mention of any other 
eclipse till we come down to the year 776 B.C., in 
the time of Yew- Wang, who is said to have reigned 
from 781 to 769 b.c. The tables I employed give 
a small eclipse on the sun, in the more northern parts 
of what is now called China, on Sept. 6, 776, about 
sunrise, but no other eclipse that year. An examina- 
tion of the preceding and subsequent years did not 
seem to render a satisfactory result. 

There is a statue in the British Museum of Assur- 
nazirpal, king of Nineveh, pointing to the crescent 
moon, which is separated from a figure of the sun by 

» This eclipse has been made the subject of the following college 
rhyme, from the alleged discomfiture of the Mandarins Ho and Hi : — 
♦* Here lie the bodies of Ho and Hi 
Whose fate though sad was risible, 
Being hanged because they could not spy 
Th' eclipse which was invisible." 

The most Ancient Eclipses, 9 

an emblem signifying fire. Mr. Hind has considered 
this to be an eclipse, and has mentioned the eclipses 
of 884 and 923 b.c. as answering for the purpose, 
especially the first-named. It seems doubtful, how- 
ever, whether an eclipse is alluded to at all. 

The first eclipse of which we have a clear record 
is one which happened at Nineveh in the year 763 b.c, 
which would be in the reign of Uzziah, king of Judah, 
and in the earlier part of the life of the prophet Isaiah. 
The record of this eclipse was discovered on the As- 
syrian tablets in the British Museum. It took place 
on June 15, and my computation makes it to have 
been almost total at Nineveh about 9h. 47m. a.m., 
corresponding as to size, and pretty nearly as to time, 
with the result Mr. Hind published in the *' Times." 
It was evidently a startling phsenomenon, and possibly 
total at Nineveh, as the inscription is underlined. 
This is, accordingly, a very important eclipse for the 
correction of the astronomical tables, as the result 
obtained places Nineveh a little out of the totality. 

Till the discovery of this Nineveh eclipse of 763 b.c, 
the most ancient eclipses on record were obtained from 
Ptolemy. He mentions in his Almagest three of 
the moon, which were observed at Babylon by the 
Chaldseans. The first of these occurred in the first 
year of Mardokempadius, the 27th of the era of 
Nabonnassar, in the Egyptian month Thoth, 721 b.c, 
the date of the kingdom of Israel being extinguished 
by Shalmaneser. The eclipse was total. The next 
two took place in the following year, and were only 
partial. These ancient eclipses have been of the greatest 
value, as they indicate an acceleration or hastening of 

10 The most Ancient Eclipses. 

the moon's motion round the earth ; that is to say, the 
moon is in advance of the place it ought to occupy in 
the sky, in other words, her revolution round us is 
accomplished in a little shorter time now than in 
earlier ages. About this period, the shadow went 
back on the dial of Ahaz, fifteen years were added to 
the life of Hezekiah, and the Babylonians sent a mes- 
sage to him. Tycho Brahe, the Danish astronomer, 
considered this miracle to have caused the Chaldseans 
to observe eclipses more diligently; and he adds, very 
sagaciously, that " Hipparchus and Ptolemy would have 
had no reason to mention these eclipses, if they could 
have found any more ancient ones, happening at an 
earlier period, since from them the motions of the sun 
and moon could be more certainly deduced." 

We may here mention that an attempt has been 
made to explain the retrogression of the shadow on 
the dial of Ahaz by an eclipse of the sun. It is true, 
we have no idea what was the particular construction 
of this dial, and so we are ignorant of the precise 
nature of the miracle. It is the first mention of the 
measure of time by a dial in Holy Writ. The first 
mention of an hour as a part of time, is when we read 
of Daniel (ch. iv. ver. 19) that he was " astonied for 
one hour, and his thoughts troubled him." Herodotus 
observes that the Grreeks learned from the Egyptians 
the method of dividing the day into twelve parts ; but 
whether the Hebrews learnt it from the Egyptians, or 
the Egyptians from the Hebrews, cannot now be known. 
It has been asked whether the miracle of the sun going 
back was wrought on the sun, or only on the dial. 
Some have observed that not a word is mentioned 

The most Ancient Eclipses. 11 

of the sun going back, but only of the shadow on 
the dial ; which might have been effected by the Al- 
mighty's power, by altering the position of the dial, 
so as to make the shadow retire, without changing the 
motion of the sun itself. The Jewish writers, however, 
and Archbishop Usher consider, on the other hand, 
that the sun and heavenly bodies went back. But con- 
jectures about the celestial machinery employed in this 
case must be as futile, as in the case of Joshua calling 
on the sun and moon to stand still. 

Returning to the eclipses of Ptolemy. According 
to the tables in the Uncyclopcedia, this one of 721 B.C. 
began at Babylon about 7h. 7m., totality came on 
8h. 10m., and ceased 9h. 51m., and the shadow cleared 
off lOh. 54m. 

Two others of those recorded by Ptolemy deserve 
attention, that of 383 b.c, Dec. 23, the occurrence of 
which he marks by saying that it was when Phanos- 
trates was ruler at Athens, in the month of Possideon, 
in the 366th year of Nabonnassar ; the other 201 B.C., 
Sept. 22. Ferguson has the following remarks on 
these : " There are two ancient eclipses of the moon 
recorded by Ptolemy from Hipparchus, which afford 
an undeniable proof of the moon's acceleration. The 
first of these was observed at Babylon, Dec. 23, 383 
B.C., when the moon began to be eclipsed about half- 
an-hour before the sun rose, but by most of our tables, 
the moon was set at Babylon about half-an-hour be- 
fore the eclipse began ; in which case, there could be 
no possibility of observing it. The second eclipse was 
observed at Alexandria, Sept. 22, 201 b.c, where the 
moon rose so much eclipsed that it must have begun 

12 The most Ancient Eclipses. 

half-an-hour before she rose ; whereas by most of our 
tables, the beginning of this eclipse was not till about 
10 min. after the moon rose at Alexandria. Had these 
eclipses begun and ended whilst the sun was beneath 
the horizon, we might have imagined, as the ancients 
had no certain way of measuring time, they might 
have been so far mistaken in the hours, that we could 
not have laid stress on the accounts given by them. 
But, as in the first eclipse the moon was set, and con- 
sequently the sun risen, before it was over ; and in the 
second eclipse the sun was set, and the moon not risen 
till some time after it began; these are such circum- 
stances as the observers could not possibly be mistaken 
in/' Now, if we examine these eclipses by the tables 
in the Encyclopcedia, we find on Dec. 23, 383 b.c, 
a very small obscuration on the moon, about J to 7h. 
local time, so the moon did " begin to be eclipsed be- 
fore the sun rose.'' The eclipse of 201 b.c. happened 
within a very few days of the September equinox. So 
the sun would set, and the moon would rise about 6h. or 
a little after. The tables give an eclipse on this even- 
ing, the middle at Alexandria about J past 6h., mag- 
nitude between six and seven tenths on the lower limb. 
While, therefore, they indicate the phsenomenon to have 
begun sooner than it probably did, they shew the moon 
considerably eclipsed at its rising, as Ptolemy records. 
The following is a list of the eclipses mentioned by 
Ptolemy, with the size expressed in digits or twelfth 
parts of the moon's diameter ; M = morning, A = 
afternoon : — 

B.C. 721, Mar. 19, A. total; b.c 720, Mar. 8, A. 3 
digits ; same year Sept. 1, A. 6 dig. ; b.c. 621, April 22, 

The most remarkable Eclipses of Antiquity. 13 

M. 3 dig. ; B.C. 523, July 16, A. 6 dig. ; b.c. 502, Nov. 
19, A. 3 dig.; b.c. 491, April 25, A. 2 dig.; b.c. 383, 
Dec. 23, M. very small; b.c. 382, June 15, A. very 
small; same year, Dec. 12, A. total ; b.c. 201, Sept. 22, 
A. 8 dig.; B.C. 200, Mar. 19, A. total, and Sept 11, M. 
total; B.C. 174, April 30, A. 7 dig.; b.c 141, Jan. 27, 
A. 3 dig. ; A.D. 125, April 5, A. 2 dig.; a.d. 133, May 
6, A. total; A.D. 134, Oct. 20, A. 10 dig.; a.d. 136, 
Mar. 6, M. 6 dig. 



Thales' Eclipse, 585 b.c, May 28. — One of the 
most celebrated eclipses in ancient history is that 
said to have been foretold by Thales of Miletus. This 
he would be enabled to do by the Saros, or period 
of eighteen years, as there had been an eclipse in 603, 
eighteen years previously. Herodotus (i. 74), relates 
that this eclipse put an end to the war between the 
Medes and Lydians, that it happened as the battle 
was at its heat, the day was suddenly turned into 
night ; GVvrjveiKe wcrre rrjs fJ^d')(r}9 (rvveaTeooo-Tjs Tr)V 
7]fiep7)v i^airlvrjf; vvKra ^evkaOai ; that the Medes and 
Lydians seeing this, ceased from fighting, and hastened 
to make peace, which they confirmed by a marriage. 
Now, the general inference from the description of 
Herodotus would be, that a total eclipse is here sig- 
nified. But supposing a large partial one would an- 
swer, computation shews there is only one eclipse 

14 The most remarkable Eclipses of Antiquity, 

about this time that will answer for that of Thales. 
It should here be mentioned that the precise spot 
where the battle was fought is uncertain. Some con- 
sider it was about the river Halys, others place it 
about the gulf of Issus. On May 28, 585 b.c, there 
was a notable eclipse of the sun in these parts. This 
has accordingly been given as the eclipse of Thales 
by Pliny, Scaliger, Ricciolus, Newton, Ferguson, and 
nearly every other astronomer. Certain chronologists, 
grounding their opinion on some merely historical 
evidence, have given other dates. Clinton and Hales 
have said 603 b.c, Prideaux 601 b.c. It has also 
been considered the eclipse of 610, Sept. 30, would an- 
swer. But when Hansen's lunar tables were published, 
this was found not to be the case. I find, by cal- 
culation, its magnitude at any point where the battle 
could have been fought was not sufficient to cause 
anything approaching the gloom described by the his- 
torian, and also that the eclipse of 603, May 18, 
would be of a much smaller magnitude, the totality 
passing a long way south of Asia Minor. As the 
eclipse of 585 b.c. comes out total in these parts 
a few minutes before six in the evening, and as there 
appears to have been no great eclipse in any ap- 
proximate year, the reader is left to draw the in- 

Eclipse of Larissa. — Xenophon, in the third book 
of his Anabasis, chap, iv., speaks of a phsenomenon, 
which was clearly an eclipse of the sun. He mentions 
a deserted city of considerable size called Larissa. It 
is now identified by the great Assyrian ruins called 
Nimrod, after the name of the mighty hunter men- 

The most remarkable Eclipses of Antiquity. 15 

tioned in Scripture. Xenophon states that the Medes 
formerly inhabited this town, which must be, of course, 
after the end of the Assyrian empire ; that " when the 
Persians got the empire from the Medes, their king 
besieged it, and could not take it, rfkiov he vecpekrj 
TrpOKoXvyjraaa rj^dviae fJLe)(pL^ ol avOpayiroL e^ekiirovy 
Koi oi/Tft)? eaXo); but gloom having covered the sun, 
made it disappear, until the inhabitants left (the city), 
or, perhaps, ' lost courage, and so it was taken/ " 
Sir G. B. Airy has found the eclipse occurred on 
May 19, 667 b.c. 

Xerxes^ Eclipse^ 478 b.c, Feb. 17. — At the time of 
the great expedition of Xerxes against Greece, there was 
an important solar eclipse. Herodotus (lib. vii. cap. 37) 
refers it to the time when the Persian army set out 
in the spring from Sardis to Abydos. " As it was on 
the point of setting out, the sun, quitting his seat 
in the heavens, disappeared, though there were no 
clouds, and the air was perfectly serene, and, instead 
of day, it became night." The historian goes on to 
say that Xerxes was troubled about this, but the magi 
told him it only meant that they were going to eclipse 
the cities of the Greeks. Arago, in his "Popular 
Astronomy," (bk. xxii. ch. viii.,) remarks on it in these 
words : " Historians have mentioned a total eclipse 
of the sun, which happened in the year 480 before 
our era, and which almost created a revolt in the army 
of Xerxes." Tycho Brahe has also given 480 b.c, 
and he remarks in his Historia Celestis : " Xerxes 
crossed over into Greece this year, as spring drew 
on. At this time, Herodotus asserts the sun was 
darkened. But this must have happened without 

16 The most remarkable Eclipses of Antiquity. 

an eclipse, as there was none in the spring of this 
year, or the former." Sir G. B. Airy sought to get 
over the diflficulty by suggesting that the eclipse of 
the moon in 478 b.c. was signified. There was no 
eclipse of the sun in 480 b.c. In the former year, 
481 B.C., April 19, M. Pingre has referred to one ; but 
I find, on calculation, that the obscuration was but 
a small portion of the sun's south limb at Susa in 
the early morning. It has been considered that 
the eclipse must have taken place at the departure of 
Xerxes from Susa, and not from Sardis, for which 
Herodotus has mistaken it. But as there was an 
eclipse in 478, very large at Sardis, Hind has shewn, 
somewhat conclusively, that this must have been the 
plisenomenon, and hence that the date of the battle 
of Salamis is two years more recent than commonly 
supposed. There was an eclipse of rather more than 
half the sun's disc on Oct. 2, 479 b.c, which Hind 
considers to be the one occurring at the time CJeom- 
brotus consulted the oracles at Sparta. 

Thucydides^ three Eclipses ^ 431 or 433 b.c; 424; 
413. — (1.) It is said that Anaxagoras foretold the 
eclipse of the sun which was seen at Athens in the 
first year of the Peloponnesian war. Thucydides 
(bk. ii. ch, 28) says that it happened in the summer, 
after noon-day, that the sun assumed a crescent shape, 
and some of the stars shone out. From this account, 
a great obscurity would naturally be inferred. The 
eclipse of 431 b.c, Aug. 3, has always been pointed 
to as that here indicated. Many astronomers have 
asserted it was total. Even Sir J. Herschel, in a note 
in his " Outlines of Astronomy," has fallen into this 

The most remarkable Eclipses of Antiquity, ] 7 

error; but he adds, "the eclipse deserves to be re- 
computed." A very slight examination would soon 
shew that it could nowhere be total ; the moon's semi- 
diameter not coming up to the sun's. I only obtain 
a magnitude of about seven-tenths of the sun's di- 
ameter for this eclipse of 431 b.c, and hence the diffi- 
culty arises, how are we to explain, aaripcop tlvwv 
iKipavevTcov. Yenus, no doubt, would come out. It 
would be seen sooner in an oriental sky than in an 
English. Ad. Smyth, at Bedford, saw it distinctly 
with the naked eye during the eclipse of 1836. Similar 
instances might be mentioned. The other eclipses 
taking place about this period, were, (1.) a small one 
on Nov. 4, 426 b.c, on the sun's south limb ; (2.) one 
on March 30, 433 b.c, larger than that of 431 accord- 
ing to these tables, and happening two hours after 
noon, would better answer the description of Thu- 
cydides than that of 431 b.c, which was about 5h. 
Plutarch ( Vita Periclis) refers to this eclipse, and says 
that Pericles, finding the pilot of his ship terrified, 
threw his cloak over him, and asked him what was 
the difference, except that something bigger than his 
cloak caused the eclipse. As both Plutarch and Thu- 
cydides refer to the darkness in so unmistakeable 
a manner, is it possible that the universally received 
date of 431 b.c must be given up ? If the eclipse 
of March 30, 433, is the larger eclipse, and the cor- 
rect one, it need not be objected that it would hardly 
be summer, for Athens is not a northern climate ; 
and, in the following eclipse, the historian distinctly 
says the time was the beginning of summer, while 
March 21 is the date that has been always given. 


18 The most remarkable Eclipses of Antiquity. 

The only difficulty would be, that the second eclipse 
seems to have been in the eighth year of the war. 

(2.) The second eclipse spoken of by Thucydides was 
at the time of an expedition of the Athenians against 
Cythera (bk. iv. ch. 52). "At the commencement of 
the subsequent summer there was somewhat of an 
eclipse of the sun, eKknre<i tc, about the new moon, 
and at the commencement of the month there was 
an earthquake." The expression is peculiar, and 
clearly indicates an eclipse only partial. Accordingly, 
for that on Mar. 21, 424 b.c, I obtain a magnitude 
that will coincide with the description of the historian. 

(3.) The last one is of the moon, about the time of 
the defeat of Nicias and the Athenians at Syracuse. 
That on the evening of Aug. 27, 413 b.c, which ap- 
pears to be signified here, was total. One on Sept. 8, 
414 B.C., has also been brought forward as answering 
for the purpose, but the moon would scarcely be risen. 
Plutarch says this eclipse terrified Nicias very much, 
for though the people could understand a solar one, 
they could not make out "how the moon, when at the 
full, should suddenly lose her light and assume such 
a variety of colours." He mentions that Anaxagoras 
was the first to point out what overshadowed the moon, 
but that his treatise was not much known, as it had 
to be communicated with caution, from fear of the 

Eclipse of Felopidas, b.c. 364.— At the time when. 
Pelopidas was starting on an expedition into Thessaly 
against Alexander of Pherse, who had ruined certain 
cities there, Plutarch relates the sun was eclipsed, and 
the city of Thebes was covered with darkness in the 

The most remarkable Eclipses of Antiquity. 19 

daytime. Arago has given 375 B.C. for the date, and 
calls it total, but a search through the new moons 
from 364 to 376 b.c, inclusive, shewed me there was 
no solar eclipse visible at Thebes in 375. The eclipse 
evidently occurred on the morning of July 13, 364 B.C., 
when upwards of three-fourths of the sun's diameter 
was under obscuration there about \ to 9h. 

Eclipse of Arbela, 331 b.c, Sept. 20. — Eleven days 
before the victory of Alexander over Darius at Arbela, 
in Assyria, there was an eclipse of the moon, men- 
tioned by Plutarch and Pliny. The moon became 
totally immersed in the earth's shadow, and the middle 
was about J past 8h. 

Eclipse of Agathocles, 310 b.c. (Referred to by Dio- 
dorus Siculus, lib. xx. cap. 1 ; Justin, lib. xxii. cap. 6). — 
On the second day of the voyage of Agathocles from 
the harbour of Syracuse to the coast of Africa, a nota- 
ble eclipse of the sun is recorded to have taken place. 
Stars were visible on all sides. Most calculations have 
indicated the line of totality to have run a consider- 
able distance south of Syracuse. I make the greatest 
phase to have occurred there 6h. 55m. morn., and with 
only a very thin crescent of light uncovered ; according 
to which totality would pass but little to the south- 
ward of Syracuse, and Agathocles and his party would 
be completely involved in it. 

Eclipse at Pydna, 167 b.c, June 10. — Livy mentions 
that Sulpitius Gallus, one of the Roman tribunes, fore- 
told the eclipse on the eve of the battle of Pydna, 
when Perseus, king of Macedonia, was conquered by 
Paulus^milius, and Tycho Brahe says he was the first 
of the Romans who foretold such a phsenomenou. Plu- 

20 The most remarkable Eclipses of Antiquity. 

tarch thus relates the circumstance : " When the 
army had supped, and were thinking of nothing but 
going to rest, on a sudden the moon, which was then 
at full, and very high, began to be darkened, and after 
changing into various colours, was at length totally 
eclipsed." The Romans, upon this, made a noise with 
brazen vessels, and held up lighted torches in the air 
to recover the moon's light, "but the Macedonians 
were seized with horror." The eclipse on the after- 
noon of June 21, 168 b.c, has been stated by Ferguson 
and others as that on the eve of the battle of Pydna. 
I find it began at 5h. 40m., totality coming on at 
6h. 59m., and lasting till 8h., and the eclipse ending 
9h. 19m. ; consequently, a great part of the phaenome- 
non would take place before the moon was risen. This 
would not at all agree with Plutarch's account. He is 
very accurate, and says the moon was " very high '* 
when it began to be darkened, and the army was going 
to rest. There is no doubt the eclipse on the night of 
June 10-11, 167 b.c, is the right one. This would 
come on about llh. 58m. night, and pass ofi* about 
3h. 22ra. next morning, totality lasting 40m. 

Eclipse of Julius Caesar j 51 B.C. — Tycho Brahe has 
given B.C. 49 as the date of the eclipse that happened 
on Julius Caesar's crossing the Rubicon. Dio Cassius, 
lib. 41, says of it, ore tiXlchs avfiTras i^ekiire. On 
March 7, however, of the above year, there was a large 
solar eclipse in these regions, not total, but annular. 

Eclipse of Herod, 1 b.c — While describing Herod's 
last illness, Josephus, after speaking of his burning 
alive Matthias and his companions, who had raised 
sedition, says, " and that very night there was an 

The most remarkable Eclipses of Antiquity. 21 

eclipse of the moon." He enters into no particulars, 
and this is the only eclipse of either of the luminaries 
mentioned by him. It is oi the highest importance 
for determining the death of Herod and Antipater, 
and for the birth and chronology of our blessed Lord. 
Tycho Brahe, Kepler, &c., have considered it happened 
on March 13, b.c. 4. Calvisius, Hind, &c., have consi- 
dered the eclipse of B.C. 1, January 9, to be referred to. 
We shall be in a better position for forming an opinion 
by comparing these two eclipses. That on the night of 
January 9, b.c 1, was a fine total phsenomenon. The 
moon's latitude being practically nil, she passed right 
through the centre of the earth's shadow, an almost 
unique instance ^. I find, by calculation, it would com- 
mence lih. 17m. night, totality coming on at 12h. 16m., 
and lasting till Ih. 53m. ; and the obscuration would 
have passed off by 2h. 53m. morn. I make the eclipse 
of 4 B.C. to begin about Ih. 17m. a.m., and the greatest 
magnitude at 2h. 34m. a.m., with scarcely half of the 
moon's upper limb obscured. It seems highly impro- 
bable that Josephus, who speaks only of one eclipse, 
should refer to a small one happening far on into the 
morning, while that of 1 b.c must have attracted some 
attention. In the years 2 b.c and 3 b.c there was no 
eclipse of the moon visible at Jerusalem. 

•> Leovitius has drawn the moon passing through the umbra of the 
earth centrally in the ecUpse of June 5, 1555, but his imperfect tables 
would need yerification. 

22 Eclipses of Romulus. 



Going back into fabulous ages, Plutarch relates, 
that, according to one Tarutius, an astrologer, Ro- 
mulus was conceived in the 1st year of the 2iid 
Olympiad, when there was a great eclipse of the sun. 
Now the first Olympiad was in 776 B.C., and, curiously 
enough, I find that on Nov. 28, 771 b.c, there was an 
annular eclipse, very large across Italy, greatest mag- 
nitude at Eome about \ to llh. a.m. The same his- 
torian, speaking of the end of Romulus, says, "The 
air on that occasion was suddenly convulsed and al- 
tered in a wonderful manner, for the light of the sun 
failed." Cicero mentions this darkness in a fragment 
of his 6th book, De Repub. In the year 715 b.c, sup- 
posed to be about the date of the death of Romulus, 
I find the sun eclipsed at Rome on May 26 about ten 
digits on the north limb, between six and seven in 
the afternoon. 

The following are referred to by Tycho Brahe, who 
has collected them from Xenophon (Hellenics), Livy, 
&c. I have ascertained, by approximate calculation, 
that eclipses did take place on the dates mentioned. 

B.C. 463, April 30. Eclipse of sun, alluded to by 

B.C. 406, April 14. Total eclipse of moon. Temple 
of Minerva burnt at Athens. 

B.C. 404, Sept. 3. Eclipse of sun. In time of Diony- 
sius, tyrant of Syracuse. 

other Eclipses in the years b.c. 23 

Eclipse of EnniuSy b.c. 400, June 21. In Monthly 
Not. Eoyal Ast. Soc, Jan. 1857, Professor Hansen's 
results are given about the eclipse of Ennius, men- 
tioned by Cicero, De Republica. It is said, **Nonis 
Junii soli luna obstitit et nox." '' On the nones of 
June, the moon and night were in opposition to the 
sun." This singular expression would indicate an 
eclipse near sunset, either of great magnitude, or total. 
By the tables in the Encyclopcedia, the eclipse was 
a trifle short of totality at Rome; greatest obscura- 
tion 7h. 6m. (In the time of Ennius, on account of 
the lunar years and intercalary month, the nones were 
between June 5 and July 4.) Hansen makes the total 
obscuration to end at Rome at 7h. 33m., the sun 
setting 3 min. afterwards. Baron de Zach made the 
eclipse only partial there, and the middle below the 

B.C. 394, Aug. 14. Eclipse of sun. The Persians 
beaten by Conon in a sea engagement. Tycho Brahe 
gives 393 b.c as the date, and so does Smyth in his 
history of Greece. Ferguson gives 394 b.c, both as- 
tronomers no doubt referring to the same year. 

B.C. 219, Mar. 20. Eclipse of moon, seen in Mysia. 

B.C. 203, May 5. Eclipse of sun, in consulship of 
Cn. Servilius Caepio, and C. Servilius Gerainus, seen 
in Latium. 

B.C. 190, Mar. 14. Eclipse of sun, in consulship of 
L. Conr. Scipio, and C. Laelius. It would be near 

B.C. 188, July 17. Eclipse of sun, seen at Rome. 

B.C. 104, July 19. Eclipse of sun, spoken of by 
Julius Obsequens in his book, De Prodigiis. Happened 

24 Eclipses of the First Century. 

at the time the Cirabri crossed over into Spain, and 
laid it waste. 

About the time of the death of Julius Caesar, there 
is recorded to have been an extraordinary dimness of 
the sun. M. Arago has gone so far as to explain it by 
an annular eclipse in the year 44 B.C. But calculation 
shews there was no such phaenomenon. Arago must 
have confused it with the annular eclipse that hap- 
pened seven years earlier, when Caesar crossed the 
Rubicon. Pliny makes use of the word defectus, but 
he cannot be understood to mean an eclipse, as he 
speaks of its lasting a whole year. TibuUus also says, 
" the misty year saw the darkened sun drive pale 
horses.^' Plutarch mentions the paleness of the sun 
for a year after Caesar's death, but adds that for want 
of the sun's heat the fruits did not come to maturity. 
The whole phaenomenon was doubtless owing to some 
peculiar meteorological condition of the atmosphere. 



The eclipses will now be arranged according to cen- 
turies. My chief authority, in the following catalogue, 
has been the Historia Celestis of Tycho Brahe. In 
every instance, I have ascertained by calculation that 
an eclipse took place at the date mentioned. 

First Centubt. 

A.D. 5. Small eclipse of the sun, on March 28, at 
Rome, alluded to by Dion Cassius, lib. 55. 

Eclipses of the First Century, 25 

A.D. 14. Total eclipse of the moon on the morning 
of Sept. 27. About the time that Drusus settled the 
mutiny of the Pannonian legions. 

A.D. 17. " Totus sol, Romse, et compluribus Italiae 
locis visus fuit obscurari.'* — Ty. Br., Historia Ce/estis, 
Misled by his imperfect tables, Tycho has considerably 
exaggerated the size of this eclipse. The obscuration 
at Eome seems to have been about two-thirds of the 
southern part of the sun's disc. Little difference in 
the semi-diameters. 

The Crucifixion, and the eclipse of Phlegon. Phlegon, 
a heathen writer, tells of a most extraordinary eclipse 
of the sun in the 202nd Olympiad. Calculation shews 
that it took place on Nov. 24 of the year 29, and that 
it was total for a little more than a minute only, at 
a point north of Palestine. As this was within a few 
years of our Lord's Crucifixion, some sceptics, with 
their usual shallowness of argument, have tried to ex- 
plain away the supernatural darkness by a total eclipse 
of the sun. But our Lord suffered at the time of the 
Jews' Passover, which was always kept at the full 
moon, when there could be no eclipse of the sun. 
Again, the darkness in total eclipses of the sun can- 
not be prolonged beyond seven minutes, nor over 
a wider space than 180 miles ; whereas, the inspired 
writers tell us the darkness at the Crucifixion lasted 
three hours, and overspread the whole land of Judea. 

"The dispute among chronologists," says Ferguson, 
*' about the year of Christ's death, is limited to four or 
five years at most. But as He was crucified on the day 
of a paschal full moon, and on a Friday, all we have 
to do, in order to ascertain the year of His death, is 

26 Eclipses of the First Century. 

to compute in which of those years there was a Pass- 
over full moon on a Friday. The only Passover full 
moon that fell on a Friday about this time, was on 
April 3, in the 4746th year of the Julian period, wliich 
was the 490th year after Ezra received his commission 
from Artaxerxes Longimanus, and the year in which 
the Messiah was to be ' cut off/ according to ancient 
prophecy. This 490th year was the 33rd of our Lord's 
age, reckoning from the common era of His birth." 

A.D. 45, Aug. 1. Speaking of the Emperor Claudius, 
Dion Cassius, lib. 60, says, " As there was going to be 
an eclipse on his birthday, through fear of a disturb- 
ance, as there had been other prodigies, he put fortli 
a pubHc notice, not only that the obscuration would 
take place, and about the time and magnitude of it, 
but also about the causes that produce such an event." 
The Romans of old were by no means noted for their 
astronomical skill, troubling themselves about little 
but military exploits. It is satisfactory, therefore, to 
be able to record an exception to the general rale. 
The above is the date Tycho Brahe gives from Peta- 
vius, but I find the echpse on that morning was very 
small at Eome. On Jan. 23, a.d. 44, however, there 
would be a larger one, about the going down of the sun. 

A.D. 47, Jan. 1. Total eclipse of moon, seen at E/Ome. 
It is added, that in the same night an island rose up 
in the -^gean sea. 

A.D. 59, April 30. Large solar eclipse at Rome, 
mentioned by Tacitus and Pliny. It was reckoned 
among the prodigies, on account of the murder of 
Agrippinus, by Nero. The sun would appear of a cres- 
cent shape, being nine-tenths eclipsed about Ih. 40m. 

Eclipses of the First Century, 27 

A.D. 69, Oct. 18. Eclipse of moon, referred to by 
Dion Cassius, lib. 65. 

A.D. 72, Feb. 22. A horizontal eclipse of the moon. 
Described further on. 

Two phaenomena at the end of the first century- 
seem perplexing. Philostratus [vita Apollon. Thian.) 
says, that before the death of Domitian there ap- 
peared at Ephesus a corona like the iris round the 
sun, which obscured his light. Chambers ("Handbook 
of Astronomy ") has called this the earliest mention of 
the corona, which is seen round the sun during total 
eclipses. Ricciolus has called it an annular eclipse, 
and the account reads like one ; but there was no large 
eclipse of the sun in any year about this time. It is 
difficult to see what is alluded to, perhaps some pecu- 
liar solar halo, or mock sun, or other meteorological 

A.D. 83, Dec. 26. Plutarch speaks of an eclipse of 
the sun, about noon, that caused considerable gloom, 
the date of which is very hard to determine. After 
examining a great number of years about this time, 
I think it possible he may have had in mind the merely 
partial eclipse of the above date. The magnitude at 
Rome seems to have been about ten digits soon after 
noon. Though the total phase would run a long way 
to the southward, we may suppose, at this civilized 
period, accounts might be brought of it as easily to 
Rome, as of the total eclipse of 1842 from the south 
of France to London. Kepler fancied the eclipse 
of A.D. 113, June 1, might be meant. Tycho Brahe 
supposed it occurred in a.d. 97, but there does not 
seem to have been an eclipse visible at Rome that year, 
except a total one of the moon in October. 

28 Eclipses of the Second to the Fourth Centuries, 

Second Century. 

The last of the eclipses of Ptolemy were observed in 
this century, those in the years 125, 133, 134, 136. 

Under the date of a.d. 192, it has been brought for- 
ward that Herodian says, "before the death of the 
Emperor Commodus stars were seen in the daytime." 
There was only a small solar eclipse at Rome on 
Feb. 29, A.D. 192 ; nor have I discovered a large one 
about that time. 

Third Century. , 

A.D. 237, April 12. According to Julius Capitolinus, 
" so great was this eclipse of the sun, that people 
thought it was night, and nothing could be done with- 
out lights." Ricciolus has remarked that it happened 
about the time of the sixth persecution of the Chris- 
tians, and when the young Gordian was proclaimed 
emperor. Struyk has put it down as total at Bologna, 
and he seems pretty correct. I obtain a great eclipse 
at Rome about 5h. 21m. afternoon, the total phase 
passing somewhat north of that city. 

A.D. 291, May 15. In 7th year of Diocletian. Small 
solar eclipse, seen at Carthage. Mentioned by Idatius. 

Fourth Century. 

A.D. 306, July 27. Large solar eclipse in the year 
the Emperor Constantius died. 

A.D. 316, July 6. An eclipse of the sun, seen at Con- 
stantinople, near sunrise. 

A.D. 324, Aug. 6. According to Calvisius, thirteen 
cities in Campania were shattered by an earthquake in 
this year, and there was so great an eclipse of the sun, 
that the stars were seen at midday. The magnitude 
seems to have been scarcely three-fourths of the sun's 

Eclipses of the Fourth and Fifth Centuries. 29 

disc in Campania. The greatest obscurity, soon after 
3h. p.m., night, in an Italian sky, bring out one or two 
of the planets. 

A.D. 346, June 6. Eclipse of the sun, in the early 
morning. (Theophanes.) 

A.D. 347, Oct. 19. Eclipse of sun, "anno 11 Con- 
stantii ut adnotat S. Hieronymus in Chronico Eusebii." 
(Ty. Br., Hist. Cel,) 

A.D. 348, Oct. 9. Eclipse of sun, seen at Byzantium. 

A.D. 364, June 16. Eclipse of sun, observed by Theon 
at Alexandria, began 3h. 18m., ended 5h. 15m. ; also 
Nov. 25, eclipse of moon, spoken of by Theon in Comm. 

A.D. 393, Nov. 20. Solar eclipse, seen at Rome and 

Fifth CENTtnRY. 

A.D. 402, Nov. 11. Solar eclipse, mentioned by 
Idatius in Fastis, 

A.D. 410, June 18. About the time that Alaric, king 
of the Visigoths, appeared before Rome, the gloom was 
such that stars appeared in the daytime. The size of 
this eclipse does not appear to have been very consider- 
able ; say about two-thirds of the sun, a few minutes 
after two o'clock. The central and annular phase must 
have exhibited itself far south of Rome. The same 
remarks will therefore apply to the darkness, as in the 
eclipse of a.d. 324. 

A.D. 418, July 19. This eclipse is remarkable, from 
the fact that a comet, previously unseen, was detected 
during the sun*s obscuration. It is the second ^case 

30 Eclipses of the Fifth Century, 

of this sort on record, the first being mentioned by 
Seneca. In this instance, Philostorgius (xii. 8) says, 
that " on July 19, towards the eighth hour of the day, 
the sun was so eclipsed, that the stars were even visi- 
ble. But, at the same time the sun was thus hid, 
a light in the form of a cone was seen in the sky." 
He also relates that the comet was seen for four months 
afterwards, and that it passed, over the last star in the 
Bear's tail. I obtain about 12h. 39m. noon, as the time 
of the greatest phase at Constantinople, the place of 
observation, and a thin crescent uncovered at the 
northern part of the sun's face; according to which, 
the eclipse would be total a little southward of this 

A.D. 451, Sept. 24. Moon eclipsed at its rising. 
(Idatius in Fastis.) 

A.D. 452, Sept. 15. Trithenius speaks of an eclipse 
of the moon observed in the time of Merovseus (from 
whom the first race of French kings are called Mero- 
vingians). This will be the one referred to. 

A.D. 453, Feb. 24. I take this to be the eclipse at 
the time Attila and the Huns made incursions and 
ravages. Projecting for Rome, about three-fourths 
of the sun's disc would be eclipsed at sunset. iVccord- 
ing to S.Gregory (Turonensis), "Then even the sun 
appeared hideous, so that scarcely a third part of it 
gave light. I believe, on account of such deeds of 
wickedness, and shedding of innocent blood." 

A.D. 458, May 28. Eclipse of sun observed this day. 

A.D. 462, March 2. Lunar eclipse seen at Home 
this night. 

Eclipses of the Fifth and Sixth Centuries. 31 

A.D. 485, May 29. An eclipse of the sun, referred by 
Tycho to Jan. 13, 484, is said to have turned day into 
night, causing " profound darkness, and the stars being 
seen." There is no doubt that of May 29, 485, is the 
correct phsenomenon (that of 484 not being visible in 
Europe). It took place in the evening, and at Rome 
would be partial, the central and total eclipse passing 
far north of that city, but the place of observation 
is not given. 

A.D. 486, May 18. Eclipse of the sun, seen at Con- 
stantinople {ex vita Procli). 

Sixth Cen^tuey. 
A.D. 538, Feb. 15. It may be interesting to know 
which is the first eclipse on record, as seen in our own 
land. As might be expected, we have no mention of 
any till the sixth century. The "Saxon Chronicle" 
thus alludes to it : " This day was the sun eclipsed 
fourteen days before the calends of March, from early 
morning till nine." I make the greatest obscura- 
tion at London to have amounted to 8J digits about 
7h. 43m. a.m. Tycho Brahe, from Calvisius, says it hap- 
pened " in the fifth year of Henry, king of the West 
Saxons, at the first hour of the day, till nearly the third, 
or immediately after sunrise." 540 is given in the 
translations of the " Saxon Chronicle" as the date of an 
eclipse, which is said to have happened " on the 12th of 
the calends of July, and in which the stars shewed 
themselves full nigh half-an-hour after nine." The 
middle of the eclipse comes out at about 7h. 37m. a.m., 
at London, magnitude two-thirds of the sun's diameter. 
The moon's semi-diameter was almost as large as it 

32 Eclipses of the Sixth Century. 

could be; the sun's semi-diameter nearly as small as 
possible. How are we to explain the notice of the stars 
shewing themselves, when totality would take place far 
south of this land ? It may be, the narrative was bor- 
rowed from those who saw or heard of the phsenomenon 
in more southerly countries. In two or three eclipses 
already mentioned we have inferred that an obscura- 
tion of two-thirds of the sun would be sufficient to 
bring out planets in the pure skies of southern cli- 
mates. But in England it would hardly be likely to 
do so, even with a clear atmosphere. Those who wit- 
nessed the eclipses of 1860, 1867, and 1870 will be able 
to bear this out. Upon examining a few years preced- 
ing and following a.d. 540, I found that on Sept. 1, 
536, there was an eclipse attaining its maximum at 
London about 12h. 37m. noon, the obscuration nine- 
tenths of the sun's diameter. Though we may not be 
entirely justified in substituting 536 for 540, yet Eng- 
lish chronicles at this early date, sixty years before the 
arrival of S. Augustine, would be very vague, and pro- 
bably put together long afterwards, from confused 
accounts. As it occurred in the middle of the day, the 
gloom would be more striking, and the stars more 
likely to be noticed. The Chronicle says the stars ap- 
peared " full nigh half-an-hour after nine.'' This may 
mean the ninth hour of the day, as it does elsewhere 
in the same work. But that is not much to be re- 
garded, considering the Chronicle says the great eclipse 
of 1140 was "about the noon-tide of the day," and 
calculation shews it was near 3h. p.m. 

A.D. 581, April 4. Eclipse of moon, mentioned by 
S. Gregory of Tours ; also the next. 

Eclipses of the Sixth and Seventh Centuries, 33 

A.D. 582. Two total eclipses of the moon, March 25 
and Sept. 18. 

A.D. 590. " The sun in the month of October was 
so eclipsed, that it had scarcely the crescent of a five- 
night-old moon to give light.'' (S. Gregory of Tours.) 
The day I find to be Oct. 4, when there was a partial 
eclipse across France, not very large. 

A.D. 592, March 19. Eclipse of sun, in the time of 
the Emperor Mauritius, ''verno tempore, ut habent 
annales Constantinopolitani, Theophanes," &c. 

A.D. 594, July 23. The exaggerated accounts of 
chronicles state that this eclipse lasted from morning 
to noon-day. But I find there was a solar eclipse 
in the early morning. 

A.D. 596, Jan. 4. Eclipse of sun, seen in France. 

Seventh Centitey. 

A.D. 603, Feb. 12. Eclipse of sun, large at Paris. 

A.D. 644, Nov. 4. Eclipse of sun, mentioned by 

A.D. 650, Feb. 6. The year after Pope Martin held 
a synod to condemn the Monothelite heresy, an eclipse 
of the sun took place, which, according to the Danish 
astronomer Tycho, was seen in England. I find more 
than three-fourths of the sun's disc under obscuration 
at London at half-past 3 this afternoon. 

A.D. 664, May 1. "In this year the sun was eclipsed 
on the 5th of the nones of May; and Earcenbryht, 
king of the Kentish people, died, and Ecgbryht, his 
son succeeded to the kingdom." (Saxon Chronicle.) 
Kepler thought this eclipse was total in England, and, 


34 Eclipses of the Seventh and Eighth Centuries, 

calculating for London, I find the sun so far eclipsed 
soon after 5h. in the evening, that there was only 
a thin crescent uncovered on the southern limb, ac- 
cording to which the totality would pass across this 
country some distance to the north of London. 

A.D. 661, July 2. A solar eclipse, " three years after 
the southern Saxons in England embraced Christian- 
ity," according to Calvisius. It took place in the early 
morning, the sun rising eclipsed. About 4h. 23m. in 
the morning, ijiiie-tenths of the upper limb would be 

A.D. 671, Dec. 7. This is the date Mr. Hind has 
found for the eclipse of the sun at Medina, when the 
Caliph Moawiyah was going to remove the pulpit 
of Mahomet. 

A.D. 680, June 17. An eclipse of the moon, men- 
tioned by Anastasius ; according to Struyk, it was seen, 
at Paris about midnight. 

A.D. 683, April 16 (midnight). The account states 
that the moon appeared covered with blood, and did 
not emerge from its obscurity till cock-crowing. 

A.D. 693, Oct. 5. An eclipse of the sun, very large 
at Constantinople, where the stars were seen. 

Eighth Centuey. 

A.D. 716, April 12. "A wonder was brought about 
in the moon in the time of Pope Gregory," says Anas- 
tasius, " and she appeared like blood until the middle 
of the night." 

A.D. 718, June 3. A solar eclipse, seen in Spain, 
spoken of by Isidorus; and very large at Constanti- 
nople, according to Struyk. 

Eclipses of the Eighth Century, 35 

A.D. 733, Aug. 14. " In this year Ethelbald captured 
Somerton, and the sun was eclipsed, and all the sun*s 
disk was like a black shield ; and Acca was driven from 
his bishopric." (Saxon Chronicle.) The eclipse must 
be that of August 14, when I find a very large one 
occurred, which, by the tables I used, was annular in 
England, the greatest phase at London about J past 8h. 
It is mentioned by several old writers, Tycho Brahe, 
Calvisius, Struyk, &c. In Humboldt's CosmoSy vol. iii. 
part 2, seventeen instances are given, in a note, of sud- 
den diminutions of the light of day. Humboldt treats 
them as if they were meteorological phsenomena, and, 
doubtless, some may be disposed of in that way; as, 
for instance, that in 45 b.c, about the death of Caesar, 
but not all ; and in his notice under a.d. 733 the above 
eclipse is probably alluded to. '' A year after the Arabs 
had been driven back beyond the Pyrenees, as the re- 
sult of the battle of Tours, the sun was darkened on 
the 19th of August, in a terrifying manner." (Schnur 

A.D. 734. Jan. 24. The next eclipse referred to in 
the " Saxon Chronicle" is connected with the death 
of a noted ecclesiastic. " In this year," the Chronicle 
relates, *' the moon was as if it had been sprinkled 
with blood, and Archbishop Tatwine and Beda c died." 

•= Amid the animosities of the present day, we cannot refrain from 
quoting the following with regard to S. Bade. As to " his desire that 
prayers should be said for him, and masses offered after he was dead, 
it is plain that he did not ask for them in expectation that they would 
help his soul out of purgatory, for he died in joyful confidence that 
his labours had been accepted, and that he should soon be with 
Christ. He believed that in the Holy Communion it was fit that a re- 

36 Eclipses of the Eighth Century, 

I find a total eclipse of the moon, early on the above 
morning, commencing about Ih. 2m. and ceasing 4h. 
38m. The total phase, when the moon would appear 
coppery, " as if sprinkled with blood," would last from 
2h. 4m. to 3h. 37m. The eclipse would consequently 
be a few months before the death of Venerable Bede, 
for he is said to have lived on till the eve of Ascension- 
day, May 26, that year ; then, seeing his end approach- 
ing, to have taken farewell of those in the monastery, 
and to have sunk down from his seat to the floor, 
uttering as his last words, "Glory be to the Father, 
and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost." 

A.D. 752, July 30. An eclipse of the moon, seen in 

A.D. 753. An eclipse of the sun, seen on Jan. 9. 
At the following full moon, on the night of Jan. 23, 
" the moon was covered with a horrid black shield." — 
(Tycho Brahe, and Calvisius.) As I find an eclipse of the 
moon in the middle of this night, may we infer from 
the description that this was one of those rare cases 
when the moon becomes dark during the eclipse, in- 
stead of assuming the copper tint? 

A.D. 755, Nov. 23, 7h. An eclipse of the moon, seen 
in England, which is said to have been " total close to 

membrance should be m-ade of the faithful departed, and that God 
should be entreated to keep them, as it is His will, in mercy and peace, 
until the resurrection of the last day. It were well if such a prayer 
had never been perverted to dangerous superstitions, and if it had 
been thus retained, as it was in the Jfirst Communion Service put forth 
for the use of the English Church after the Eeformation, the first 
Prayer-book in King Edward VI.'s reign." — Churton's Early English 

Eclipses of the Eighth and Ninth Centuries. 37 

the eye of the Bull," (that is, the bright red star Alde- 
baran). It is added, that the moon was the same dis- 
tance on one side of the star when it began to be 
obscured, as it was on the other side when it recovered 
its light. 

A.D. 760, Aug. 15. An eclipse of the sun was seen 
at Constantinople on this day. (Theophanes.) 

A.D. 764, June 4. An eclipse of the sun, about 
midday, seen in France and England. 

A.D. 787, Sept. 16. A large eclipse of the sun, seen 
at Constantinople in the time of Constantine VI., 
emperor of the East. 

A.D. 796, March 28. " In this year the moon was 
eclipsed between cock-crowing and dawn, on the 5th 
of the calends of April ; and Erdwulf succeeded to the 
kingdom of the Northumbrians on the 2nd of the 
ides of May." (Saxon Chronicle.) This would signify 
between 3h. and 6h. in the morning, the method of 
dividing the night into equal portions of three hours 
each, being long continued by historians. The eclipse 
began about 4h. a.m., was total for nearly an hour, 
and ended about half-past 7h., so the moon would set 
totally eclipsed. 

Ninth Centuey. 

A.D. 800, Jan. 15. " This year the moon was eclipsed 
at 8h. in the evening, on the 17th day before the 
calends of February ; and soon after died King 
Bertram, and Ealdorman Worr." (Saxon Chronicle.) 
I find a large lunar eclipse on this night, beginning 
at seven o'clock, middle 8h. 34m., when nine-tenths 

38 Eclipses of the Ninth Century. 

of the moon's upper limb would be obscured, end 
lOh. 8m. 

A.D. 802, May 21. " This year was the moon eclipsed 
at dawn on the 13th of the calends of January," (De- 
cember 20). Some mistake about the date in the 
translations of the " Saxon Chronicle." The December 
full moon will not answer in 800, 801, nor 802. I 
believe the eclipse referred to occurred on May 21, 
802. It seems to have come on about 2h. 20m., that 
mornin§^, and to have been almost total about 3h. 55m., 
near the time of sunrise. 

A.D. 806, Sept. 1. " This year was the moon eclipsed 
on the 1st of September ; Erdwulf, king of the North- 
umbrians, was banished from his dominions, and Ean- 
bert, Bishop of Hexham, departed this life." (Saxon 
Chronicle.) I find a total eclipse of the moon this 
evening lasted from about 8h. 25m. till after midnight. 
Totality, according to the tables employed, was from 
9h. 37m. to lOh. 59m. 

A.D. 807, Feb. 11. An eclipse of the sun, amount- 
ing to about three-fourths of his disc, was seen in 
England and France about lOJh. a.m. 

Two total eclipses of the moon were seen at Paris, 
Feb. 26, Aug. 22. 

A.D. 809, July 16. " In this year the sun was eclipsed 
in the beginning of the fifth hour of the day, on the 
17th of the calends of August, on the second day of 
the week, the 29th of the moon." (Saxon Chronicle.) 
I find an eclipse on July 16, not, however, very remark- 
able ; greatest phase at London about 9h. 22m. a.m., 
when the magnitude was seven-tenths of the sun's 
upper limb. North of London the eclipse would be 

Eclipses of the Ninth Century. 39 

larger. By the fifth hour of the day, we must, no 
doubt, understand the fifth hour from sunrise. So the 
account in the Chronicle is very exact. 

A.D. 810. Three eclipses in France this year : a total 
one of the moon on the evening of June 20 ; another 
of the moon early in the morning of Dec. 14 ; and one 
of the sun, November 30, which must have been very 
large at Paris. 

A.D. 812, May 14. Solar eclipse at Constantinople, 
in the afternoon. (Ricciolus.) 

A.D. 813, May 4. Eclipse of the sun, seen in Cap- 
padocia early in the morning, in the last year of the 
Emperor Michael Curopolites, and the first of Leo 

A.D. 817, Feb. 15. An eclipse of the moon was ob- 
served early this evening at Paris, and it is added that 
the same night a comet was noticed. 

A.D. 818, July 7. Eclipse of sun, seen at Paris early 
in the morning. (Aimoinus.) 

A.D. 820, Nov. 23. Total eclipse of moon, seen in 
France early this evening. 

A.D. 824, March 18. Total eclipse of moon, seen in 
France before the death of the pope. Paschal I. 

A.D. 828. Two total eclipses of the moon mark this 
year; one seen in France, July 1, very early in the 
morning, the other in England and France on Christ- 
mas morning. The " Saxon Chronicle" has this no- 
tice of the last: "In this year the moon was eclipsed 
on midwinter's mass night; and the same year. King 
Egbert subdued the kingdom of the Mercians, and 
all that was south of the Humber." It commenced 
about a quarter-of-an-hour past midnight, and, after 

40 Eclipses of the Ninth Century, 

passing through a total phase for 40min., terminated 
about 4h. a.m. It must have taken place about the 
time historians say Egbert triumphed over all oppo- 
nents, and united the several Anglo-Saxon kingdoms 
into one powerful monarchy. It is just alluded to 
in Tycho Brahe's Historia Celestis : " Eclipsis lunse 
altera die Nativitatis Christi circa mediam noctem." 

A.D. 831. Three eclipses observed in France this 
year; a total one of the moon on the evening of 
April 30, of which only the end would be visible; one 
of the sun on May 16; and another total one of the 
moon OQ October 24. 

A.D. 840, May 5. In the troubled and unquiet 
days of this century, we have the two most noted 
eclipses of the sun on record in Europe, those of 
A.D. 840 and 885. The darkness in each case has 
been found, by recent investigations, to have lasted 
longer than was once supposed possible in these lati- 
tudes. In the eclipse of a.d. 840, total darkness con- 
tinued upwards of five minutes across what is now 
called Bavaria. It took place in the middle of the 
day, and with the sun high in the sky. It was noticed, 
as far back as this, how everything gradually changed 
colour during the obscurity. We are told, "there 
seemed no difference from the reality of night, that 
the stars shone out without any sensible diminution 
of light." It is recorded that Louis ^, the Emperor 

* " Louis acquired the surname of ' the Pious.' He spent the whole 
time of Lent in singing psalms, prayer, attendance on divine service, 
distributing alms, and other works of piety ; so that he scarcely 
mounted his horse, and took exercise, more than two or three daya 
the whole time." — Palmer, 

Eclipses of the Ninth Century. 41 

of the West, died a little while after it, and he seems 
never to have recovered the fright he received from 
the eclipse. 

A.D. 842, March 30. Eclipse of the moon, seen in 
France this morning. (Ricciolus.) 

A.D. 878, October 29. Total solar eclipse at London, 
in the time of King Alfred. After a lunar eclipse 
seen in France on Oct. 15, we come to one of the sun 
on the 29th, which is pointed to in the translations of 
the "Saxon Chronicle" by the following meagre notice, 
under the date of 879 : " The sun was eclipsed one 
hour of the day." No month is given. On examining 
the new moons, I found no visible solar eclipses that 
year, but in 878 a great one. The tables I used gave 
totality at London about Ih. 14m., and Mr. Hind, 
by a more recent calculation, found that total dark- 
ness came on at Ih. 16m. 20s., and lasted nearlv two 
minutes. A note in Thorpe's translation of the Chron- 
icle, says "the eclipse happened on March 14, 880;" 
but as that one turns out to be near sunset, and 
nowhere total, it will not be the one here signified. 
I have examined the years from 878 to 1715, but 
without finding one other eclipse of the sun total 
at London in this long interval. Tycho Brahe's 
Historia Celestis gives the following account of this 
echpse of 878 : " Ait autem auctor vitse Ludovici solera 
post horam nonam ita obscuratum esse, ut stellse in 
ccelo apparerent, et omnes sibi noctem imminere pu- 

A.D. 881, Aug. 28. An eclipse of the sun seen in 
France, according to Calvisius. 

A.D. 885, June 16. A great total eclipse of the 
sun, mentioned in the Chronicon Scotorum, but not 

42 Eclipses of the Ninth and Tenth Centuries. 

alluded to in the " Saxon Chronicle." It was seen in 
Ireland, but its full grandeur would be developed 
across Scotland, where, from the moon being near 
perigee, and the sun near apogee, its duration was 
nearly five minutes. 

Tenth Centxtet. 

A.D. 901, Jan. 23. Eclipse of sun, observed by Alba- 
tegnius at Antioch, "obscurata est semissis et paulo 
plus de sole ; " also one of the moon, Aug. 3. 

A.D. 904. "This year the moon was eclipsed." 
" Saxon Chronicle." I find two total eclipses of the 
moon. One on May 31 ; beginning, by the tables 
I used, 9h. 22m. ; totality commencing, lOh. 23m. ; 
end of totality, 12h. 4m. ; end of the eclipse, Ih. 5m. 
next morning. The other eclipse was on Nov. 25; 
beginning, 7h. 22m.; total darkness began, 8h. 31m.; 
terminated, 9h. 42m. ; end of eclipse, lOh. 51m. 
Tycho Brahe speaks of one of them in the following 
quaint way in his Historia Celestis : " A great eclipse 
of the moon happened this year, says Cedrenus, and 
if anyone, terrified at it, should ask what it meant, 
the answer is, that by this eclipse death is foretold to 
a kinsman of the emperor." 

A.D. 912, Jan. 7. Lunar eclipse seen in England, in 
the time of King Edward. 

A.D. 926, March 31. A total eclipse of the moon, 
seen at Paris ; the moon getting clear of the shadow 
just as it was beginning to dawn. (Frodoard.) 

A.D. 934, April 16. A solar eclipse, supposed to be 
a sign of the death of the emperor. (Calvisius.) But 
this did not take place for two years. 

Eclipses of the Tenth Century. 43 

A.D. 939, July 19. A large eclipse of the sun was 
observed in Spain a little before the victory of Ea- 
meses II. over the Saracens. 

A.D. 961, May 17. "A sign placed in the sun/* 
says Hermannus Contractus, " by which words he in- 
dicates an eclipse of the sun in this year, in the which 
Otto proceeded into Italy." (Tycho Brahe, and Cal- 

A.D. 968, Dec. 22. I make this eclipse to have been 
almost total at London about 8h. 33m. a.m., or soon 
after sunrise. It was observed on the continent, ac- 
cording to Cedrenus. 

A.D. 977, Dec. 13. Eclipse of sun, observed at Cairo ; 
beginning, 8h. 25ra. ; end, lOh. 45m. ; dig., 8 ; sun's 
altitude at beginning, 15*^ 43' ; at end, 33^^ 

A.D. 978, June 8. The sun was observed eclipsed 
at the same place; beginning, 2h. 31m.; end, 4h. 50m. 
These eclipses have been used in determining the 
moon's secular acceleration. Dr. Yince remarks that 
" the astronomical tables have been found to represent 
the moon's place in these two eclipses of 977 and 978 
before its true position, and in more ancient eclipses 
behind its true place. It follows, then, that its mean 
motion in ancient times was slower, and in latter times 
quicker, than the tables give; therefore, it must have 
been accelerated. There must also have been a time 
when the tables would give the true place; and, al- 
tliough the ancient observations of the times of the 
eclipses were not very accurate, yet they were suf- 
ficiently so, to prove, beyond all doubt, that the moon's 
motion is greater at this time than it was when the 
ancient eclipses were observed." 

44 Eclipses of the Eleventh Century, 

Eleventh Centijey. 

A.D. 1009, Oct. 6. The moon was *' changed into 
blood," this year, according to Belgian Chronicles. 

I find there was a total eclipse this night. 

A.D. 1010, March 18. Eclipse of the sun, mentioned 
by Sigebert. 

A.D. 1020, Sept. 5. Eclipse of moon^ seen at Cologne 
this night. 

A.D. 1023, Jan. 24. This must have been a very 
large solar eclipse at London. The greatest phase fell 
about noonday. Struyk says the magnitude there was 

II digits, but I find an obscuration somewhat larger 
than this. Still, London appears to lie south of the 
line of totality. 

A.D. 1033, June 29. An eclipse of the sun, spoken of 
by all the writers of this time. Projecting for London, 
I find the magnitude about eight-tenths on the sun's 
lower limb at lOh. 50m. in the morning, leaving there- 
fore a crescent of a fifth part of his disc still bright. 
Glaber, an eye-witness, writes, that " on the 3rd of the 
calends of July there was an eclipse from the sixth to 
the eighth hour of the day, exceedingly terrible. Eor 
the very sun became of a sapphire colour ; in its upper 
part having the likeness of a fourth part of the moon." 

A.D. 1037, April 18. A solar eclipse, very large in 
France, where it is recorded that the sun looked like 
the crescent of a new moon two nights old. 

A.D. 1031, Aug. 31. An eclipse of the sun, large in 
France, said to have been observed after the death of 
Conrad II. Tycho gives 1039 as the date, but as 
Conrad died in 1030, is not the above the right eclipse ? 

Eclipses of the Eleventh Century. 45 

A.D. 1044, Nov. 8. A large partial eclipse of the 
moon was observed the morning of this day. In the 
following words, Glaber, a writer of this century, de- 
scribes the phsenomenon : " In what manner it hap- 
pened, whether a prodigy brought to pass by the Deity, 
or by the intervention of some heavenly body, remains 
known to the author of knowledge. For the moou 
herself became like dark blood, only getting clear of it 
a little before the dawn." A fragment of an old French 
Chronjcle says it happened between the Hyades and 
the Pleiades. 

A.D. 1056, April 2. A total lunar eclipse, about mid- 
night, in which we are informed "the whole of the 
moon became darkened like a glowing coal, after the 
first cock-crowing, and then recovered its light/^ Nu- 
remberg is one of the places where it is recorded to 
have been seen. 

A.D. 1078, Jan. 30. The only eclipse this century, of 
which we are favoured with an account in the " Saxon 
Chronicle." It goes thus : " In this year, the moon 
was eclipsed three nights before Candlemas, and jEgel- 
wig, the * world-wise ' abbot of Evesham, died on 
S. Juliana's mass-day (Feb. 16), and in this year was 
the dry summer, and wildfire came in many shires, 
and burnt many towns." I find a total eclipse of the 
moon on the evening of Jan. 30. At London, the moon 
would first touch the umbra of the earth about 6h. 11m., 
totality commencing 7h. 16m., and continuing till 8h. 
58m., and the eclipse would be over lOh. 3m. 

A.D. 1093, Sept. 3. Eclipse of sun, observed at Augs- 

A.D. 1096. Two total eclipses of the moon observed 

46 Eclipses of the Eleventh and Twelfth Centuries, 

this year in Europe ; one on the morning of Feb. 11, 
the other early in the evening of Aug. 6. In both 
cases the moon dipped very deeply into the earth's sha- 
dow. Tycho Brahe says these two eclipses are recorded 
by many writers. 

A.D. 1098, Christmas-day. An eclipse of the sun, 
seen at Augsburg. 

A.D. 1099, Nov. 30. The year in which Pope Urban II. 
died, we are told by Calvisius and Tycho Brahe there 
was an eclipse of the moon, and that it took place on 
June 5, when the moon was rising. Now, I find 
scarcely anything of that eclipse would be seen in 
Europe, the moon being below the horizon. There 
was, however, a total one on Nov. 30, the moon rising 
eclipsed, but a great part of the phsenomenon would be 
visible here. The latter seems, therefore, to be the 
eclipse alluded to. 

Twelfth Centtirt. 

A.D. 1110, May 5. A curious total eclipse of the 
moon observed in England. Described further on. 

A.D. 1113, March 19. Eclipse of the sun, in the 
morning, seen at Jerusalem by William of Tyre. 

A.D. 1114, Aug. 18 (morn). A total eclipse of the 
moon seen in England. The *' Saxon Chronicle," which 
does not mention it, speaks of other phsenomena during 
the year. " In the latter end of May was seen an un- 
common star with a long train, shining many nights. 
In this year was so great an ebb of the tide everywhere 
in one day, as no man remembered before; and men 
went riding and walking over the Thames eastward of 
London Bridge.'' 

Eclipses of the Twelfth Century. 47 

A.D. 1117, June 16, Dec. 10. The first was a total 
eclipse of the moon, seen in France ; the latter is thus 
spoken of in the " Saxon Chronicle." " In the night 
of the 3rd day before the ides of December was the 
moon during a long time of the night as if covered 
with blood." I find the eclipse began about lOh. 35m., 
became total llh. 36m., continued so till Ih. 17m., and 
ended 2h. 17m. (morning). 

A.D. 1121, April 4. "The moon was eclipsed on the 
night of the nones of April, being a fortnight old." 
Calculating for London, 1 find the eclipse began 
7h.23m., and lasted till about llh. 19m. 

A.D. 1124, Aug. 11. An eclipse of the sun observed 
in England between llh. and 12h. in the day. 

A.D. 1133, Aug. 2. One of the most noted eclipses 
in mediaeval times. The " Saxon Chronicle " describes 
it in this fashion, the translations giving the date of 
1135 : " In this year went the King Henry over sea at 
Lammas, and the next day, as he lay asleep on ship, 
the day darkened over all lands ; and the sun was all, 
as it were, a three-night old moon, and the stars 
about him at midday. Men said a great event would 
come, and the same year was the king dead, the day 
after S. Andrew's mass-day in Normandy." There is 
a mistake about the date the translations have given. 
Henry I. died in 1135 ; but at the new moou, in 
August of that year, I find there was no eclipse. 
On August 2, the day after Lammas, 1133, an eclipse 
took place which thoroughly answers the conditions. 
At London that morning nearly nine-tenths of the 
sun's disc were obscured. In Scotland the eclipse was 
total. William of Malmesbury, speaking of the death 

4S Eclipses of the Twelfth Century. 

of King Henry I., writes : " The elements manifested 
their sorrow at this great man's last departure ; for the 
sun, on that day, at the 6th hour, shrouded his glori- 
ous face, as the poet's say, in hideous darkness, agi- 
tating the hearts of men by an eclipse ; and, on the 
sixth day in the week, early in the morning, there was 
so great an earthquake that the ground appeared abso- 
lutely to sink down, an horrid noise being first heard 
beneath the surface." According to Calvisius it was 
seen in Flanders, and the stars appeared. 

A.D. 1135, Bee. 22. At the death of Henry I, it is 
recorded by Matthew Paris, " lunam nunquam com- 
paruisse," by which words a total eclipse of the moon 
is clearly indicated. It happened after the death of 
Henry, on the day on which Stephen was crowned. 
I find only the first part of this eclipse would be visible 
in our land, the moon setting before the middle. 

A.D. 1140, March 20. A total eclipse of the sun 
in England. The "Saxon Chronicle'' relates: *'In 
the Lent, the sun and the day darkened, about the 
noon-tide of the day, when men were eating, and 
they lighted candles to eat by. That was the 13th 
day before the calends of April. Men were very much 
struck with wonder." William of Malmesbury re- 
cords : " During this year, in Lent, on the 13th of the 
calends of April, there was an eclipse throughout Eng- 
land, as I have heard. With us and with all our neigh- 
bours, at the ninth hour of the fourth day of the week, 
the obscuration was so remarkable, that people said 
chaos was come again, smce it was Lent. Afterwards, 
learning the cause, they went out, and beheld the stars 
around the sun. It was thought, and said by many. 

Eclipses of the Tioelfth Century. 49 

not untruly, that the king (Stephen) would not con- 
tinue a year in the government." According to the 
tables I used, the greatest obscuration of this eclipse 
took place at London at 2h. 36m., when a narrow cres- 
cent was uncovered at the south of the sun, shewing 
the line of totality must have gone north of Lon- 
don, a result not agreeing with Dr. Halley's. Halley 
said it was the total eclipse in London preceding that 
of 1715. This statement is now known to be an error. 
Tycho Brahe in his Historia Celestis, says the mag- 
nitude at London was 11^ 38', and he, with inferior 
tables to Halley, proves correct. Mr. Hind has shewn 
that the central line of totality crossed over Aberyst- 
with, Stafford, and Lincoln, and that Northampton 
and Norwich were on the southern boundary. 

A.D. 1147, Oct. 26. Solar eclipse, seen in France. 
It is said to have occurred after the departure of Conrad 
into Palestine. 

A.D. 1150, Mar. 15. Eclipse of moon, total. (Cal- 

A.D. 1153, Jan. 26. A solar eclipse is obscurely 
recorded by historians on this day, when they state 
"something singular happened to the sun, the day after 
the Conversion of St. Paul." I find an eclipse of the sun, 
which at Augsburg appears to have been pretty large. 

A.D. 1161, Aug. 7. Total eclipse of moon, seen at 
its rising. (Calvisius.). 

A.D. 1172, Jan. 12. An eclipse of the moon this 
winter is said by historians to have lasted about four 
hours. It was total, and occurred on the above night. 
Cologne was one of the places where it was seen. 

A.D. 1178, Mar. 5. An eclipse of the moon is re- 


50 Eclipses of the Twelfth Century, 

corded by the Monk of Cologne, who states that " half 
of it was darkened for the space of one hour, and the 
other half remained bright." 

A.D. 1178, Sept. 13. A large partial solar eclipse 
observed at Cologne. Calculating for that place, I find 
about eight-tenths of the sun's disc obscured a little 
before noon. 

A.D. 1179, Aug. 19. A total eclipse of the moon seen 
at Cologne early in the morning. The account states 
that it lasted from the middle of the night till sunrise. 

A.D. 1180, Jan. 28. Large eclipse of the sun seen 
in France. (Calvisius.) 

A.D. 1181, July 13. Partial eclipse of the sun (not 
large,) observed, in Prance, near the time of the death 
of Louis VII. 

A.D. 1185, May 1. A solar eclipse of some note. It 
was observed, amongst other places, at Rheims, in 
Prance. In Scotland, Tycho Brahe says it was total, 
and he seems correct. At London, I find between 
eight and nine-tenths of the sun's upper limb covered 
soon after two o'clock. 

A.D. 1186, April 5. An eclipse of the moon on the 
eve of Palm Sunday is mentioned by a monk of Co- 
logne. The monk thought it was partial, because the 
moon rose when the shadow was going off her face. 
I find, however, it was total, and the moon would rise 
during the phaenomenon at Cologne. 

A.D. 1186, April 31. The Arabians speak of an 
eclipse of the sun on this day, in the year of the He- 
gira 582; but it was not large, and probably recorded 
as being in the same year as the celebrated conjunc- 
tion of all the planets. 

Eclipses of the Twelfth and Thirteenth Centuries^ 51 

A.D. 1187, Sept. 4. This solar eclipse occurred in 
the time of the Crusades, in the year in which Saladin 
defeated the crusaders at Tiberias, re-took Jerusalem, 
and made prisoner its sovereign, Guy of Lusignan. 
The eclipse was large at Jerusalem, and the stars are 
said to have been seen. 

A.D. 1189, Feb. 2. Partial eclipse of moon seen in 
England, and on the continent. 

A.D. 1191, June 23. A great solar eclipse is men- 
tioned by English writers as having been seen on the 
vigil of St. John the Baptist, in this year. It hap- 
pened in the middle of the day. The moon's semi- 
diameter was very small, so that it could only be 

A.D. 1192, Nov. 21. Partial lunar eclipse (morning). 
A French observation. 

A.D. 1193, Nov. 10. Total lunar eclipse, during 
which the moon rose. Another French observation. 

Thirteenth Century. 

A.D. 1204, April 15. A total eclipse of the moon, 
about midnight. It is recorded to have happened after 
Alexius III., the Emperor of the East, was dethroned. 
It was also observed in England. 

A.D. 1207, Feb. 28. Eclipse of sun, spoken of by 
several historians. 

A.D. 1208, Feb. 2. Eclipse of moon, seen early this 
evening. The total phase would be of long continu- 

A.D. 1215, Mar. 17. A total eclipse of the moon, 
seen at Cologne, *' from cock-crowing to sunrise.'^ 

A.D. 1230, May 14. Great solar eclipse about sun- 

52 Eclipses of the Thirteenth Century. 

rise. It is said the night appeared to be prolonged 
by it. (Calvisius.) 

A.D. 1232, Oct. 15. Small eclipse of sun, mentioned 
by a monk of Cologne. 

A.D. 1239, June 13. Eclipse of sun, llh. a.m. (Cal- 

A.D. 1241, Oct. 6. Solar eclipse, spoken of in the 
Historia Celestis of Tycho Brahe. He states that 
" a few stars appeared about noonday, and the sun 
was hidden from sight in a clear sky." I find it would 
be seen in this country, as a large partial eclipse, be- 
tween the hours of eleven and twelve. Humboldt, in 
Cosmos, vol. iii. pt. 2, has the following in a note : 
"1241. Five months after the Mongol battle of Leig- 
nitz, obscuratus est sol (in quibusdam locis ?) et factae 
sunt tenebrse, ita ut stellse viderentur in coelo, circa 
festum S. Michaelis hora nona. — Chronicle of the Neu- 
hurg Convent near Vienna.^' 

A.D. 1248, June 7. An eclipse of the moon is re- 
corded to have been seen in England, soon after sun- 
set, this day. I find it was total, and the moon would 
rise eclipsed. 

A.D. 1255, July 20. Another total eclipse of the 
moon, seen in England, after sunset. 

A.D. 1263, Aug. 5. An eclipse of the sun observed 
at Augsburg, where it would be of considerable magni- 
tude. (Calvisius.) 

A.D. 1267, May 25. A large solar eclipse, mentioned 
by Nicephorus Gregoras. It was seen at Constanti- 
nople. I find the semi-diameters of the sun and moon 
almost exactly alike. 

A.D. 1272, Aug. 10. Partial eclipse of the moon, 

Eclipses of the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Centuries, 53 

seen this evening at Vienna. I find the moon would 
rise after the commencement. 

A.D. 1274, Jan. 23. A lunar eclipse took place this 
night, which is recorded to have been seen at Vienna. 
Tycho Brahe says that Gerard Mercator (the author of 
the projection of the world inserted in some Atlases,) 
found an account of it in an old book. 

A.D. 1279, April 12. Eclipse of the sun, seen at 
Frankfort, a little before sunset. This one is also 
mentioned by Mercator. 

A.D. 1290, Sept. 5. Large solar eclipse across cen- 
tral Europe. (Spangenbergius.) 


A.D. 1307, April 3. Small echpse of sun, seen in 
northern Italy. 

A.D. 1310, Jan. 31. A solar eclipse mentioned by 
Spangenbergius. It is said to have been seen at 

A.D. 1312, July 5. Eclipse of sun, (not large,) about 
midday. (Calvisius.) 

A.D. 1321, June 26. An eclipse of sun early in the 
morniug, mentioned in Bohemian history. The semi- 
diameters of the sun and moon turn out pretty nearly 
alike, and both very small. 

A.D. 1327, Sept. I. Total eclipse of moon, just be- 
fore sunrise, seen at Constantinople. 

A.D. 1328, Feb. 25. An eclipse of the moon, re- 
corded to have been seen at Constantinople in the 
beginning of spring this year. 

A.D. 1330, July 16. Eclipse of the sun, recorded in 
Bohemian Chronicles. It was observed also at Con- 

54 Eclipses of the Fourteenth Century. 

stantinople ; and, I find, it would be a large eclipse 
across Great Britain, but the semi-diameters would be 
very similar. 

A.D. 1331, Nov. 30, Dec. 15. The first was an eclipse 
of the sun, about sunrise ; the latter, one of the moon ; 
both observed at Prague. 

A.D. 1338, Feb. 5. An eclipse of the moon, recorded 
by Nicephorus Gregoras. We are informed that when 
the moon " rose, it was almost all darkened, and there- 
fore all the more notable and striking." The place of 
observation is not given, but, no doubt, it would be 
Constantinople. I find an eclipse this afternoon, in 
the latter part of which the moon would be above 
the horizon there. 

A.D. 1339, July 7. Eclipse of the sun, about mid- 
day. (Calvisius.) 

Supposed eclipse at the battle of Cressy. History 
tells us of an eclipse of the sun at the battle of Cressy, 
August 26, A.D. 1346. Lingard, in his History of 
England, Edw. III., uses these words: "Never, per- 
haps, were preparations for battle made under circum- 
stances so truly awful. On that very day the sun 
suffered a partial eclipse: birds, in clouds,, the pre- 
cursors of a storm, flew screaming over the two armies, 
and the rain fell in torrents, accompanied by incessant 
thunder and lightning. About five in the afternoon 
the weather cleared up, the sun in full splendour 
darted his rays in the eyes of the enemy." I find 
there was no eclipse at all. There were two eclipses 
of the sun this year, Feb. 21 and Aug. 17, but neither 
was visible in Europe. From the account in Lingard's 
history, the atmosphere appears to have been in a dis- 

Eclipses of the Fourteenth Century. 55 

turbed condition; so the supposed solar eclipse was 
evidently nothing more than a dark cloud, or some 
meteorological phsenomenon. 

A.D. 1349, June 30. This eclipse is referred to by 
Calvisius. Churton, in his "History of the Early Eng- 
lish Church," has the following : " The worthy Abp. 
Bradwardine, who flourished in the reign of the Nor- 
man Edwards, and died a.d. 1349, tells a story of 
a witch, who was attempting to impose on the simple 
people of the time. It was a fine summer's night, and 
the moon was suddenly eclipsed. ' Make me good 
amends,^ said she, *for old wrongs, or I will bid the 
sun also to withdraw his light from you.' Bradwar- 
dine, who had studied the Arabian astronomers, was 
more than a match for this simple trick, without call- 
ing in the aid of the Saxon law. * Tell me,' he said, 
* at what time you will do this, and we will believe 
you ; or, if you will not tell me, I will tell you, when 
the sun or the moon will next be darkened, in what 
part of their orb the darkness will begin, how far it 
will spread, and how long it will continue.' It is need- 
less to add that the witch was quite dumb-founded. 
This was 200 years before the Reformation. How 
miserable to think that 100 years after it, in the six- 
teen years of Cromwell and the Long Parliament, more 
than 300 unhappy persons were tried for witchcraft, 
and the greater part were executed. There had been 
only fifteen executions for a century before, and pro- 
bably not so many sufi'ered by Saxon ordeals." Brad- 
wardine was only archbishop for one year, a.d. 1349, 
and we are told the eclipse was on a fine summer's 
night. It was, therefore, that of June 30, 1349. Cal- 

56 Eclipses of the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Centuries. 

culating for London, I find the moon first touched the 
earth's shadow about 9h. 26m., became totally im- 
mersed lOh. 24m., totality ending 12h. 4m., and the 
eclipse 13h. 2iii. 

A.D. 1354, Sept. 17. An eclipse of the sun was ob- 
served this morning. Said to be about the time Charles 
lY. proceeded into Italy. (Calvisius.) 

A.D. 1361, May 5. Large solar eclipse, seen at Con- 

A.D. 1386. An eclipse of the sun Jan. 1, was total 
in the south of France. 

Fifteenth Century. 

A.D. 1406, June 1. Total eclipse of moon, seen at 

A.D. 1406, June 16. A great solar eclipse, early in 
the morning. I find the greatest phase at London 
about 6 o'clock, when the sun was eclipsed to the 
extent of nine-tenths on the lower limb. Hence, 
totality passed a trifle south of England. Accounts 
state the darkness was such that "one person could 
hardly recognise another." 

A.D. 1415, June 7. Solar eclipse, which is related to 
have happened after the feast of Corpus Christi. Total 
in the south of France. In Bohemia, we are told 
that *' birds terrified with the sudden darkness fell 
down dead." 

A.D. 1424, June 26. Amother total eclipse of the 
sun in Europe this afternoon. At Wittemberg it 
appears to have been observed nearly total. 

A.D. 1433, June 17. A noted solar eclipse. It was 
total across Scotland, including Edinburgh, also in 

Eclipses of the Fifteenth Century, 57 

Kortliumberland. The total phase was exhibited about 
three ia the afternoon, and for generations afterwards 
it went by the name of the " black hour/' The moon's 
semi-diameter was very large, the sun's very small. 
Calvisius tells us that in Turkey, " near evening, the 
light of the sun was so overpowered that darkness 
covered the land." 

A.D. 1438, Sept. 19. The eclipse of the sun that was 
seen at the death of Edward, king of Portugal. 

A.D. 1448, August 29. Eclipse of sun, seen at 

A.D. 1457, Sept. 3. Total eclipse of the moon, ob- 
served near Vienna by George Purbach and his pupil, 
John Muller, who generally went by the name of Re- 
giomontanus. A volume by Eegiomontanus is in the 
library of the Royal Astronomical Society at London. 
It contains positions of the planets for each day from 
1474 to 1506, a calendar for every month, the festivals 
of the Church, coloured figures of the eclipses, with 
the number of digits obscured. Scarcely any copies of 
this rare, early printed work, that are perfect, remain. 

A.D. 1460, July 3. Partial eclipse of moon ; Dec. 28, 
total eclipse of moon. Both observations of Regio- 

A.D. 1460, July 18. The sun would rise eclipsed, the 
morning of this day, to Great Britain. In Austria and 
the Turkish dominions it was a great eclipse. The ac- 
counts tell us that " when day began, the sun lost his 
light to such an extent that everything was wrapt 
in darkness." 

A.D. 1461, June 22, Dec. 17. Two total eclipses of 
the moon, both observed by Regiomontanus. Only 

58 Eclipses of the Fifteenth Century. 

the latter portion of that on Dec. 17 would be visible 
in Europe. 

A.D. 1464, April 22. Total eclipse of moon, seen at 
Padua in the morning. 

A.D. 1471, June 2. Partial eclipse of the moon. It 
is mentioned by Tycho in his Historia Celestis, and he 
adds, "the end was not observed owing to the inter- 
vention of clouds." 

A.D. 1485, March 16. A very large solar eclipse the 
afternoon of this day. We are informed that there 
was intense gloom, and nothing was done without arti- 
ficial liglit. Fowls and other animals betook them- 
selves to their nightly resting-places. Crusius says 
candles had to be lighted between the hours of four 
and five. Nuremberg is mentioned as one of the places 
where the eclipse was seen. The total phase would 
pass south of this country. 

A.D. 1493, April 2. This is the lunar eclipse taken 
by Kicciolus to be the one that was of such use to 
Christopher Columbus. There seems, however, a little 
doubt which of Columbus' voyages is referred to. The 
eclipse on the evening of March 1, 1504, has also been 
given as the correct date. When the celebrated voyager 
was in great distress for want of provisions, which the 
natives refused to supply, he told them the moon would 
be darkened on a certain day to shew the ar.ger of 
heaven at their conduct to him. This was at first 
treated with unconcern. But when the eclipse was 
seen gradually creeping over the moon, the barbarians 
were so terrified that they strove who should be the 
first in bringing him all sorts of provisions, and threw 
them down at his feet, imploring his forgiveness. 

Eclipses of the Sixteenth Century. 59 

Sixteenth Centtjey. 

As the design of this little work was mainly to give 
the eclipses in ancient and mediaeval times, we shall 
now only notice a few of the most remarkable. 

A.D. 1530, March 29. Kepler tells us this solar 
eclipse was seen by his uncle, and that " when the day 
had only become light, it was extinguished, and turned 
into night." In England I find the sun would not 
be up. 

A.D. 1540, April 7. The sun would not be risen in 
England, but this would be an important eclipse, and 
slightly total in countries lying more easterly. Cypri- 
anus Leovitius, in the preface to his work on eclipses, 
to which we have already alluded, thus speaks of it : 
"Anno nativitatis 1540, quum Wratislanise essem, fuit 
eclipsis solis pene Integra in Ariete, quae in ipso ortu 
prorsus horribilis apparuit, quum statim sestus gravis- 
simus, cum siccitate magna, et annonae caritatis sub- 

A.D. 1544, Jan. 24. An eclipse of the sun, in which 
the semi-diameters of the two luminaries would be 
similar. Tycho Brahe tells us it was " observata Lo- 
vanii a Gemma Frisio per foramen fenestrse dig. 10." 
Kepler says that the day began to become dark, as if 
in evening twilight, and the birds, which from break of 
day had been singing, became mute. Leovitius al- 
ludes to it in these words : " Similiter anno 1544, die 
24 Januarii, cum gravium virorum consuetudine Lipsise 
uterer, fuit eclipsis solis integra in Aquario, ita ut ipso 
die tenebrse quasi suborirentur ; erat autera alioquiu 
tempestas' nebulosa, quae tenebras illas augebat." In 

60 Eclipses of the Sixteenth Century, 

the days of Leovitius, of course, no astrouomical work 
could be found without a strong smattering of astro- 
logy i ^^^ he informs us that this eclipse was the pre- 
cursor of wars in Germany, famine, pestilence, &c. ; 
that in 1551 of "dangerous changes in religion, the 
death of Pope Paul, and other events, as many know." 

A.D. 1560, Aug. 21. A noted eclipse of the sun, 
total in Spain and Portugal, observed at Coimbra by 
Clavius, who says, *'The sun remained obscured for no 
little time, there was darkness greater than that of 
night, no one could see where he trod, and the stars 
shone very brightly in the sky : the birds, moreover, 
wonderful to say, fell down to the ground in fright at 
such startling darkness." P. Emmanuel Vega gives 
a still more highflown description. He says it "lasted 
for three hours, amid the screams of women, who cried 
out that the last day of the world had arrived, never 
were the stars so bright, and men could scarcely see 
each other in their houses, and there was need of 
lights." Tycho Brahe, not admitting any total eclipses 
of the sun, did not believe this account, and wrote to 
Clavius to that eflPect in the year 1600, as Kepler in- 
forms us. I make the middle of this eclipse to have 
occurred at Coimbra a few minutes after eleven. Leo- 
vitius has drawn it for Augsburg as an eclipse of 
7^ digits on the lower limb, too small a magnitude for 
that place ; but he makes the moon's semi-diameter 
17' 22", a much larger magnitude than it can ever 
attain, just an opposite result to what Tycho would 
have given. 

A.D. 1567, April 9. Annular eclipse of the sun, ob- 
served by Christopher Clavius at Rome. He says, that 

Eclipses of the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries. 61 

"the whole sun was not eclipsed, but there was left 
a certain bright circle all round." Tycho relates that 
he saw it, when he was a young man, on the shores of 
the Baltic. Cornelius Gemma, at Louvain, observed 
that it "began at lOh. 12m., was at its height (vigo- 
rem) llh. 40m., and ended a little after 12|^h., digits 
nearly 9. The light was very pale, and it looked like 
evening, but no stars came out." Kepler thought the 
bright circle was a dense portion of the aether inflamed 
by contact with the sun, or else the margin of the sun 
enlarged in some optical manner by the refraction of 
his rays around the moon. Calculating for Home, 
I make the eclipse annular there at 12h. 20m. (noon), 
but the augmentation of the moon's semi-diameter 
would almost produce totality. 

A.D. 1598, Feb. 25, " The Black Saturday." For 
generations afterwards the day went by this name. 
The sun was totally eclipsed in the morning in Scot- 
land, Edinburgh being within the zone of complete 

Seventeenth Century. 

A.D. 1610, July 6. An eclipse of the moon the morn- 
ing of this day deserves notice, simply because it must 
be the first that was ever viewed through a telescope. 
The observer is not stated, but there is the following 
remark about it in the Supplement to the Historia 
Celestis : " The beginning of the eclipse of the moon, 
as observed through the Roman telescope, appeared 
like a dark thread in contact with the shadow." The 
eclipse of the sun. May 30, 1612, is also recorded to 
have been seen "through a tube," and it is added. 

62 Eclipses of the Seventeenth Century, 

" the spots on the sun then appeared darker than the 

A.D. 1620. Two peculiar total eclipses of the moon. 
Described further on. 

A.D. 1630, June 10. A large solar eclipse. Gasseudi, 
at Paris, observed the beginning at 6h. 16m., mid- 
dle, 7h. 12m. p.m., dig. eel. 11« 32'. Dr. Bainbridge, 
at Oxford, found the commencement 5h. 58m., termi- 
nation 7h. 48m. 

A.D. 1652, April 8. The last eclipse of the sun that 
was total in Scotland. Our Scotch neighbours will not 
get another, in any county, till the twenty-second 
century. The eclipse of 1652 went by the name of 
** Black Monday," for a long while afterwards. At 
London the middle was found to be at lOh. 29m., 
digits 11^. Hevelius, at Dantzic, observed the middle 
12h. 10m. 35s., digits eclipsed 9-J, and the proportion 
of the semi-diameter of the sun to that of the moon 
as 1,000 to 1,033. 

A.D. 1668, Nov. 4. An eclipse of about two-thirds 
of the sun's disc in this country. Flamsteed gives us 
several figures of its different stages in his Historia 
Celestis. He states that he found the tables in the 
Astronomia Carolina very much out. The defective 
state of the lunar tables led, a few years later, to the 
foundation of the Greenwich Observatory. 

The Caroline Tables were by Thomas Street, an 
Englishman, and were in use for a long time. They 
first appeared in 1661. Another edition was published 
by Dr. Halley in 1710. Street constructed the Logistic 
logarithms. A copy of the 1661 edition is in my 

Eclipses of the Eighteenth Century. 63 

Eighteenth Centuey. 

A.D. 1703, Dec. 23. A singularly bright total eclipse 
of the moon. Described further on. 

A.D. 1706, May 12. A total eclipse of the sun, of 
which only a partial phase was visible to England. 
Captain Stannyau, at Bern, in Switzerland, after no- 
ticing a star and a planet shining brightly, says the 
sun's " getting out of the eclipse was preceded by 
a blood-red streak of light from its left limb, which 
continued not longer than 6 or 7 seconds. Then part 
of the sun's disc appeared all of a sudden, as bright as 
Yenus was ever seen in the night, nay, brighter, and 
in that very instant gave a light and shadow to things 
as strong as moonlight.'^ Here is one of the earliest, 
and probably the first account we have of the red 

A.D. 1715, May 3. Eclipse of the sun, total right 
across England, from Cornwall and Devon to the 
Wash. London was included in the totality, which 
took place soon after nine o'clock on a fine spring 
morning. This, with the sun high in the sky, rendered 
it a sight that Londoners may never expect to witness 
again. Elamsteed gives the following account of it in 
his Historia Celestis : — 

" 20h. 5m. 54s. Beginning, apparent time- 

21 9 Totahs obscuritas. 
„ 12 12 Lux prima. 

22 19 51 Finis. 

" Valde sereno per totam eclipsis durationem aere.'^ 
Dr. Halley says, that " when the last part of the sun 
remained on its east side, it grew very faint, and was 

64 Eclipses of the Eighteenth Century. 

easily supportable to the naked eye above a minute 
before total darkness ;" that " a few seconds before the 
sun was totally hid, there discovered itself round the 
moon a luminous ring," (he means the corona;) "this 
was of a pale whiteness, or rather, pearl colour, a lit- 
tle tinged with the colours of the iris, and concen- 
tric with the moon." During the eclipse, flashes of 
light seemed to dart out from behind the moon. 
Two or three seconds before the emersion, where 
the sun was just coming out, a long and very nar- 
row streak, of a dusky but strong red light, seemed 
to colour the dark edge of the moon." Halley states 
that Jupiter, Mercury, and Venus were seen during 
the totality by people in London, also Capella and 
Aldebaran; that north of London, in the centre of 
the line of totality, twenty stars were seen. Surely 
there must be some interesting accounts of this eclipse 
remaining, if old families could only be induced to 
search their papers. 

A.D. 1724, May 22. The last eclipse of the sun, total 
in England. A map of the path of totality, by Dr. 
Halley, in the rooms of the Royal Astronomical So- 
ciety, places London just outside the total phase. When 
a great solar eclipse happens at any particular place, it 
is frequently followed by three at the space of half 
a Chaldsean period (nine years) between them. For 
example, the large eclipse of 1406 was followed by 
others in 1415, 1424, 1433. At the beginning of the 
eighteenth century great eclipses fell in this country in 
1706, 1715, 1724, 1733. In our own times we have 
had a nine-year period, comprising four eclipses of 
some magnitude, those of 1833, 1842, 1851, 1860. 

Eclipses of the Eighteenth Century, 65 

Returning to the eclipse of 1724, it was observed 
by Dr. Stukeley, who selected as his place of obser- 
vation an eminence called Haraden Hill, having Salis- 
bury Plain on the front. The Doctor said he seemed 
to "feel the darkness drop down like a great mantle," 
that during totality " it was beyond all that he had 
ever seen^ or could picture to his imagination, the 
most solemn." He could only with difficulty dis- 
cern the faces of his companions, which had a ghastly, 
startling appearance. Sky and earth were covered as 
with a funeral pall. In the sun's place at length ap- 
peared a small lucid spot, and from it ran a rim of 
faint brightness. In about 3J minutes from this ap- 
pearance, the hill-tops changed from black to blue, 
the horizon gave out the grey streaks previous to morn- 
ing dawn, and the birds sprang joyously into the air, 
and the great sight of 1724 was gone, not to be dis- 
played in this country again till many generations had 
passed ad majores. 

A.D. 1737, March 1. An eclipse of the sun, annular, 
at Edinburgh. This is one of the very few instances 
in which something was seen of the red flames on the 
edge of the sun, when he was not totally eclipsed. 

A.D. 1748, July 14. An eclipse of the sun, nine to 
ten digits in magnitude, at London; annular in Scot- 
land. Short, one of the observers, noticed the mottled 
appearance of the sun's photosphere. An indication 
was again perceived of the " red flames" in the shape 
of a kind of brown light. 

A.D. 1793, Sept. 5. After the annular eclipse of 1764 
already alluded to, there was no other large eclipse of 
the sun in this country, in the latter part of the last 


66 Eclipses of the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries. 

century, except this one. The magnitude was eight- 
tenths at London, and annular in the north of Scot- 
land. Considerations respecting the shape of one of 
the moon's horns in this eclipse led Sir W. Herschel 
to form an opinion against a lunar atmosphere. 

The eighteenth century was a rich time for central 
eclipses in Great Britain, two being total, and one 
annular in England, 1715, 1724, 1764; and three 
annular ones in Scotland, 1737, 1748, 1793. 

Nineteenth Centuet. 

A.D. 1820, Sept. 7. A large partial eclipse of the 
sun on the afternoon of this day was well observed in 
England, the sky being generally quite clear. The 
Lords, engaged in summing up the charges against 
Queen Caroline at the time, left oflp, to attend to their 
astronomical call. The magnitude of the eclipse in the 
easteru counties was nine-tenths of the sun's face : 
and stars are said to have -been detected. This latter 
point is of importance with regard to our records of 
ancient eclipses, as indicating what degree of obscura- 
tion, even in a northern latitude, is sufficient to bring 
out the planets during the obscuration caused by an 

A.D. 1836, May 15. An eclipse of the sun on a Sun- 
day afternoon, well observed throughout Great Bri- 
tain. Annular in the northernmost counties of Eng- 
land, and in the south of Scotland. Eamous for what 
is known as " B ally's beads," noticed by Mr. Baily, at 
Jedburgh, in Roxburghshire. About the formation, 
and rupture of the ring, he observed the rough moun- 
tains on the moon's edge projected on the sun's bright 

Eclipses of the Nineteenth Century, 67 

face like a row of bead-like dots. Some indication of 
the red flames was perceived where the eclipse was 
annular. Henderson, who observed at Edinburgh, 
states that previous to the formation of the annulus 
an arc of faint reddish light was seen. Bessel, at the 
Konigsberg observatory, a little out of the annul arity, 
saw a " luminous point near the extremity of the upper 
cusp. As the cusps were then approaching each other, 
I hoped the annulus was about to form, but this did 
not happen." Admiral Smyth, observing it at Bed- 
ford, as a partial eclipse of nine-tenths, states that 
" as the sun obfuscated, the air grew cooler ;" that vege- 
tation assumed a yellow tinge, the light became mel- 
lower ; that Venus became visible to the naked eye, 
and Mercury through the finder. 

A.D. 1842, July 8. Total eclipse of the sun in the 
south of Prance. The present interest felt in total 
solar eclipses seems to have been kindled by this one. 
After a long interval, ever since 1724, in which no 
total eclipse of the sun could be viewed within a 
reasonable distance from this country, that of 1842 
happened, and was total over some of the populous 
districts in Europe. Arago informs us that the poorest 
villagers of the Alps and Pyrenees repaired in crowds 
to culminating points, where the phaenomenon could 
be best seen. At Perpignan, only persons who were 
confined to their chambers by ill-health remained at 
home. "The magnificence of the phaenomenon had 
triumphed over the petulance of youth, over the levity 
affected by some of the spectators, and the usual in- 
difference of soldiers ; a profound calm reigned through- 
out the air during the two minutes of totality, birds 

68 Eclipses of the Nineteenth Century, 

ceased to sing, &c. The main point of interest] con- 
sisted in some strange red flames that were seen shoot- 
ing forth from the black disk in the sky. To' solve 
the nature of these red flames, astronomers looked 
forward to the eclipse of 1851.'' 

A.D. 1851, July 28. Total eclipse of the sun in 
Norway and Sweden. Great numbers of observers 
proceeded from all parts for the observation of this 
important phsenomenon. It was clearly seen that the 
red flames which had been noticed in 1842, belonged 
to the sun, and not to the moon. As the moon's black 
globe passed over the sun, the flames on one side di- 
minished in size, while those on the other increased. 
The gloom is said to have had a very unearthly appear- 
ance, not resembling that of night. The sea appeared 
lurid red. The aspect of nature was grand beyond 

A.D. 1860, July 18. Eclipse of the sun, total in 
Spain, whither a large party proceeded from England 
in the " Himalaya." Other nations prepared well-equip- 
ped expeditions, including even the Pacha of Egypt. 
Although the summer of 1860 was notedly wet, some 
good photographs were obtained of the totality, and 
the fact of the red flames belonging to the sun, and 
not to the moon, was confirmed beyond a doubt. 

A.D. 1868, Aug. 18. An eclipse of the sun, of which 
the totality was of extreme duration. Unfavourable 
weather prevailed at Bombay, but in some places valu- 
able observations were obtained of the red prominences 
by the spectroscope, proving them to be gaseous. 

Dec. 22. Total eclipse of the sun in the 
ain and north of Africa. Though bad wea- 

Dv tne spect 
^ <*Y A.D. 1870, 

/ iouth of Sps 

Present Prospects of the Amateur, 69 

ther in a great measure interfered with observations, 
it was ascertained that the red prominences are com- 
posed of flames of hydrogen. A line of green light 
was found in the spectrum of the corona, the same 
that appears in the spectra of the aurora and zodiacal 



We may now pause to consider what are the pros- 
pects the astronomical observer has at the present day. 
For the concluding thirty-six years of the last century 
there was no large solar eclipse in our own country 
but one: there is a greater scarcity of such phaeno- 
mena during the years that have to run out in the pre- 
sent century. Let us just suppose the lover of astro- 
nomy to have set up an observatory in England thirty 
years ago, and to have been spared to continue his ob- 
servations to the present day. First of all, he would 
have had a great solar eclipse in 1847, annular in the 
south of England, and the largest eclipse since 1764. 
This was followed in 1851 by an eclipse of at least 
eight-tenths of the sun here, and total by taking a trip 
across the water to Norway. Again, in 1858, there 
came a notable phaenomenon, annular, but almost total. 
On the central line, as, for instance, about Swindon, in 
Wiltshire, it was considered .that if the sun's face could 
be divided into 1,000 parts, 999 of these would be 

70 Present Prospects of the Amateur. 

eclipsed. Two years more pass, and we come to July, 
1860, with another eclipse of at least eight- tenths of 
the sun's diameter on the lower limb here, and total in 
Spain. In 1867 there came another eclipse, magnitude 
at London exactly three-fourths of the sun. In a few 
years more we had the eclipse of 1870, amounting to 
eight-tenths in England, and total at Gibraltar, quite 
easy of access. In other words, six fine eclipses of the sun 
have presented themselves to our view within the last 
thirty years. To be sure, this must be modified, when 
we look at the result, and not at the prediction. The 
eclipse of 1847 was obscured by clouds where annu- 
lar, and only well seen, we believe, in some places in 
the north of England ; those of 1851 and 1860 seen 
through passing clouds ; that of 1858 hardly seen any- 
where. Let us now suppose an observer to commence 
his observations at the present date, and to continue 
them thirty years. He will not have a single solar 
eclipse of the size of any of the six that happened in 
the last thirty years. Should his observatory be in the 
south of England, he will have just one eclipse, attain- 
ing a magnitude of two-thirds of the sun's disc, that 
of 1900. To an observer in the northern counties of 
Scotland there will be no eclipse to the extent of nine- 
tenths of the sun till 1921 ; to an observer in the 
northern counties of England, none till 1927, and that 
one happens shortly after five in the morning. It is 
necessary, therefore, to undertake a sea voyage to view 
the phaenomenou an astronomer must long to observe, 
a total eclipse of the sun. The observation of solar 
eclipses on a large scale in our own country will have 
to be left to another generation. With regard to the 

Present Prospects of the Amateur. 71 

partial eclipses of the sun we shall have to put up with, 
the following are the most note- worthy points: — (1.) 
The time of commencement and cessation, and the 
measurement of the magnitude with a micrometer. 
(2.) The projection of the lunar mountains on the sun's 
bright face, giving a rough and jagged appearance 
to the rim of the moon, as seen in the telescope. 
(3.) The projection of a small portion of the moon's 
black] globe against the sky, outside the sun. I have 
never observed a solar eclipse in a clear sky without 
noticing this. Perhaps the portion of the moon is 
rendered visible by being projected against the lumi- 
nous corona that surrounds the sun. (4.) Some ob- 
servers notice very carefully the passage of the moon 
over certain solar spots. This can only be interesting 
so far as it shews the different shades of blackness 
between the moon's globe and the spots. (5.) It is 
said that during a partial solar eclipse a curious phse- 
nomenon is sometimes produced. The light of the 
sun shining through the leaves of a tree casts a num- 
ber of little lengthened-out crescents of the sun on 
the ground, figures of the eclipse. In large eclipses, 
a peculiar livid, unearthly gloom begins to come over 
the landscape, deepening more rapidly as totality ap- 
proaches. Of course this is seen, in a small degree, in 
partial eclipses. I found in 1867 and 1870 this gloom 
began to be very perceptible when the eighth digit 
was reached ; in other words, when two-thirds of the 
sun were cut off by the advancing body of the moon. 
This would, probably, be more noticeable in summer 
than in winter; and, of course, in an oriental, clear 
climate the gloom would be much greater than in our 

72 Curiosities in Lunar Eclipses. 

latitude. If many clouds prevail in the sky, this gloom 
is scarcely to be detected, as I found to be the case 
in 1860. 



When the amateur has observed one solar eclipse 
he will find somewhat of a sameness in another, except 
it be a total or an annular one. This is not the case 
with an eclipse of the moon. The latter possesses an 
interest of its own, arising from the variation of colour 
our satellite exhibits, at different times, when consider- 
ably immersed in the earth's shadow. The following 
is the programme of an ordinary total eclipse of the 
moon. First of all, a smokiness appears on our satel- 
lite. This is the penumbra, or shadow of a shadow. 
It gradually merges into the true umbra, and a black 
segment of a circle creeps on over the lunar mountains 
and plains. Let it be remembered, an eclipse of the 
moon is a real darkening of the moon's surface; in 
other words, a real eclipse. One of the sun, is the mere 
shutting off the solar disc from a certain portion of 
the earth's surface. While only a small portion of the 
moon is obscured, the shadow is of a black, or rather 
dark grey colour ; but when the eclipse reaches four di- 
gits, or one-third of the moon's diameter, I have always 
noticed the beginning of a coppery tint. When a mag- 
nitude of half the moon's disc is attained, this coppery 
tint begins to be discernible with the naked eye. The 

Curiosities in Lunar Eclipses. 73 

whole surface then becomes lighter, the grey colour 
diminishes, and, when totality is attained, the whole of 
the lunar mountains, valleys, plains, &c., appear in- 
volved in a dull red gloom. The most striking time 
is always when the first streak of light bursts forth at 
the edge of the moon. The singular ruddy tint, with 
a streak of silvery light at this time, has been not 
inaptly likened to a magnificent peach hung in the 
sky. The declining phases resemble the increasing 
phases, only in an inverse order, the ruddiness giving 
place to a greyish colour, and that, in its turn, to 
a darker grey or black, when the shadow is nearly 
passing off. The ruddy hue, which the moon assumes 
during the total phase, puzzled mankind for centuries. 
The Greeks thought the darkened moon should be of 
different colours, according to the hours at which the 
eclipse happened. Kepler gave the explanation of the 
red colour on the moon in a total eclipse. He shewed 
that it is caused by the refraction of the sun's rays ; to 
put it in plainer words, the sun's rays are bent over 
the earth and thrown into the earth's shadow. These 
rays have a reddish look, because of the thickness of 
the atmosphere through which they have to penetrate. 
This density will stop all the other rays, and transmit 
only the red. Red rays are always the last to dis- 
appear, and for this reason the sun appears red through 
a fog. But the strata of our atmosphere are variable, 
as regards saturation. Sometimes they will hold much 
vapour ; at other times they will be transparent. For 
this reason, in some very rare cases, the moon will 
disappear altogether during a total eclipse, as if blotted 
out of the sky j at other times it has been known to 

74 Curiosities in Lunar Eclipses. 

shine with singular distinctness, when totally immersed 
in our shadow. Thus are produced what we may term 
black total eclipses and bright total eclipses. If the 
region through which the sun^s rays pass is saturated 
in some parts and not in others, a portion of the moon 
will be very obscure during totality, and another part 
may be illuminated. Such is said to have been the 
case in the eclipses of August 16, 1598, and Oct. 13, 
1837. I witnessed this, to a certain extent, in the 
total eclipse of July 12, 1870 ; at 9h. 55m. that night 
I found half the moon's surface quite invisible, both 
with the naked eye and telescope. Three of the so- 
called seas at the eastern limb were alone discernible 
at that time. 

Thus, in a total eclipse of the moon, we have not 
merely the beauties of tint to notice, but we may have 
some idea of the state of transparency of the several 
strata of our atmosphere. During the next forty years 
the following total eclipses of the moon will be visible 
in Great Britain, thus affording an opportunity for 
such observations :— 1877, Feb. 27 and Aug. 23 ; 1884, 
Oct. 4; 1888, Jan. 28; 1895, March 11 ; 1898, Dec. 
27; 1902, Oct. 17; 1909, June*3; 1910, IS'ov. 16. 
Besides these there will be a few eclipses in which the 
moon will be rising or setting, and so part of the total 
phase may be seen if the sky is very clear. Two or 
three other eclipses that are almost total might be also 
included. It will be seen, that we do not get a total 
eclipse of the moon at a sufficient altitude for fair ob- 
servation above once in five years on the average. Pre- 
vious to that of July 12, 1870, the author had seen 
none since Oct. 13, 1856, which was a hair's breadth 

Curiosities in Lunar Eclipses. 75 

short of totality; on other occasions, 1862, 1863, and 
1866, clouds entirely interposed. 

Black Total Eclipses. — The earliest mention I have 
been able to find of this, occurs in the " Saxon Chro- 
nicle/' The description given there of an eclipse in 
the time of Henry I., May 5, 1110, records that " nei- 
ther light, nor orb, nor anything of the moon was 
seen." The inference appears to be, that it was a case 
of the disappearance of the moon during the total phase. 
The " Saxon Chronicle " says, " On the fifth night in 
the month of May the moon appeared in the even- 
ing, brightly shining, and afterwards, by little and 
little, its light waned, so that as soon as it was night 
it was so completely quenched, that neither light, 
nor orb, nor anything of it was seen ; and so it con- 
tinued very near until day, and then appeared full and 
brightly shining. It was this same day a fortnight 
old. All the night the air was very clear, and the 
stars over all the heaven brightly shining, and the 
tree fruits on that night were sorely nipt." By the 
tables I used the moon entered the earth's shadow 
about 9h., and emerged from it, after being totally 
eclipsed, about 12h. 30m. Other cases, in which the 
moon has become invisible during a total eclipse, are 
said to have occurred in 1601, 1620, 1642, 1761, 1816. 

On calculating that on the afternoon of Dec. 9, 1601, 
I find the obscuration was not total, but nine-tenths 
on the lower limb. In the " Paralipomena '^ to Ty- 
cho Brahe's Historia Celestis the observation of this 
eclipse is recorded, but nothing is said about the dis- 
appearance of the moon. Perhaps Dec. 9, 1601, has 
been given in mistake for Dec. 9, 1620. It is re- 

76 Curiosities in Lunar Eclipses. 

corded in the same work that there were two eclipses 
in 1620, in both of which the moon shewed with pecu- 
liar obscurity during the total phase, one on June 20, 
when we are told "the moon was seen with great 
difficulty. It shone, moreover, like the thinnest ne- 
bula, far fainter than the milky way, without any 
coppery-tinge (rubedine). About the middle of the 
second hour, nothing at all could be seen of the 
moon with the naked eye, and through the telescope 
so doubtfully was anything seen, that no one could 
tell whether the moon was not something else." It 
is added that "the sky was quite clear." Of the 
eclipse of Dec. 9, this year, (1620), it is recorded, 
'' the moon altogether disappeared, so that nothing 
could be seen of it, though the stars shone brightly 
all around ; and she continued lost and invisible for 
a quarter-of-an-hour, more or less." The observation 
appears to have been made at Ingolstadt, where, by 
the tables I used, the obscuration began about 4h. 
18m. (afternoon), totality lasting from 5h. 18m. to 6h. 
54m., and the end at 7h. 54m. This is one of the 
best-authenticated instances of the moon becoming 
utterly invisible during the total phase. The eclipse 
of 1642, April 4, is recorded by Flamsteed in his His- 
toria Celestis to have been observed by Crabtree, who 
speaks of clouds, but not about the disappearance of 
the moon. That of May 18, 1761, was observed at 
Stockholm by Wargentin, who tells us the moon be- 
came utterly invisible both with the naked eye and 
the telescope. The last instance, on June 10, 1816, 
(a noted wet summer,) was observed at Loudon, when 
the moon could not be detected with telescopes. 

Curiosities in Lunar Eclipses. 77 

Bright total eclipses. — As a contrast to the preceding, 
we may mention the total eclipse of Dec. 23, 1703, 
in which the moon, when totally immersed in the 
earth's shadow, was visible at Avignon by a ruddy 
light of such brilliancy that one might have imagined 
her body to be transparent, and to be enlightened 
from behind. At London I find this eclipse would 
begin about 4h. 31m. (morning), the total phase com- 
mencing 5h. 36m. and ending 7h. 22m., and the eclipse 
ending below the horizon 8h. 27m. On the evening 
of March 19, 1848, so bright a red colour did the moon 
wear during total immersion that some persons could 
hardly be persuaded it was eclipsed. Mr. Forster, at 
Bruges, says, the marks on the moon's face " could 
be almost as well made out as in an ordinary dull, 
moonlight night." The British consul at Ghent, not 
knowing there was any eclipse, wrote to him to know 
the reason of the peculiar red colour of the moon the 
previous evening. 

Horizontal Eclipses. — In some rare cases it happens 
that the sun and moon are both seen above the ho- 
rizon at the same time when the moon is eclipsed. 
It would seem, at first sight, that the sun, moon, and 
earth were no longer in a straight line, as they must 
be when there is an eclipse. The appearance is owing 
to refraction. The sun, already below the horizon, is 
raised up by refraction, and is visible to us. Refraction 
hastens the apparent rising of one body, and retards 
the apparent setting of the other. A remarkable in- 
stance of this was observed at Montmartre, by the 
members of the Academy of Sciences, on May 26, 
1668. Projecting for Paris, the beginning seems to 

78 Curiosities in Lunar Eclipses, 

have been about 2h. 17m. a.m., and at 3h. 45m., 
shortly before sunrise, eight-tenths of the moon would 
be obscured. On June 16, 1666, the moon was seen 
in Tuscany to rise eclipsed, the sun being still above 
the western horizon. On July 19, 1750, there was 
another case of this. In more ancient times there 
are a few instances on record. The following hap- 
pened in 1590, and is recorded by Tycho in these 
words : — "7 July iu the morning, about 3f h., the 
moon began to be eclipsed ; in this eclipse it is notable 
that both luminaries were at the same time above the 
horizon, a like case to what Pliny cites, lib. ii. ch. 3. 
For the centre of the sun emerged when the moon 
was 2° elevated above the western horizon, and when 
her centre was setting, the centre of the sun was ele- 
vated nearly 2°." I find an eclipse of the moon the 
morning of this day, corresponding to the time here 
mentioned. The magnitude would be very small. 
The case of which Pliny speaks occurred on Feb. 20, 
A.D. 72, in the time of Yespasian. Pliny tells us, "By 
some means, when, at sunrise, the umbra ought to 
have its place beneath the earth, it has now once hap- 
pened that the moon was eclipsed at its setting, both 
heavenly bodies being conspicuous above the earth." 
I find, by calculation, the eclipse would be total, but 
very little indeed would be seen of it in Europe, the 
commencement being about the time the moon was 
getting down to the horizon. 

A clear proof of the rotundity of our globe may be 
obtained by merely watching an eclipse of the moon. 
The obscurity we see creeping over the moon is the 
actual shadow of our earth, and it is a complete seg- 

Return of the Cycles of Eclipses. 79 

ment of a circle. From the beginning to the end of 
an ecHpse it preserves a circular form. This remark 
was made by the earliest observers. Two writers, Ma- 
nilius and Cleomedes, who lived about the time of the 
Christian era, have brought this forward as a proof of 
tha roundness of our earth. Thus there is another 
method of ascertaining this point besides noticing the 
disappearance of a hull of a ship before the masts, or 
by a voyage round the world. 

The return of Cycles of Eclipses. — The period of eigh- 
teen years and eleven days, in which eclipses return 
in the same order, is said to have been found out by 
the Chaldaeans, and to have been called by them the 
Saros. It gives a fair idea of lunar eclipses, though 
the magnitude will alter a little at each return. It 
also indicates that there will be a solar eclipse visible 
from some place on the earth on a particular day. 
It may interest the reader to go through the courses 
of one or two echpses. The next one we shall have 
in Great Britain, Oct. 10, 1874, is thus traced by 
Ferguson from its commencement. This eclipse, after 
traversing the voids of space since the Creation, at last 
began to enter the Terra Australis Incognita about 
eighty-eight years after the Conquest, which was the 
last of King Stephen's reign ; every Chaldsean period 
it has crept more northerly, but was still invisible in 
Britain before the year 1622, when on the 30th of 
April, it began to touch the south part of England 
about 2h. in the afternoon, its central appearance 
rising in the American south seas, and traversing Peru 
and the Amazons' country, through the Atlantic Ocean 
into Africa, and setting in the Ethiopian continent, 

80 Return of the Cycles of Eclipses. 

not far from the beginning of the Red Sea. Its next 
visible period was after three Chaldsean revolutions, 
in 1676 on June 1st., rising central in the Atlantic 
Ocean, passing us about 9h. in the morning, with four 
digits eclipsed on the under limb, and setting in the 
gulf of Cochin-China in the East Indies. It being now 
near the solstice, this eclipse was visible the very next 
return, in 1694, in the evening; and in two periods 
more, which was in 1730, on July 4, amounted to 
rather more than six digits just after sunrise, and was 
observed at Wittemburg in Germany, and Pekin in 
China, soon after which it went off. Eighteen years 
more afforded us the eclipse which fell on July 14, 
1748. The next visible return was on July 25, 1766, 
in the evening, about four digits being eclipsed ; again, 
after two periods more, on August 16, 1802, early in 
the morning, about five digits ; the centre coming 
from the north frozen continent, by the Capes of Nor- 
way, through Tartary, China, and Japan, to the La- 
drone Islands, where it went off. Again, in 1820, on 
Sept. 7, it was large at London, nine-tenths being ob- 
scured ; but happening so near the equinox, the cen- 
tre left every part of Britain to the west, and entered 
Germany at Embden, passing by Venice, Naples, Grand 
Cairo, and set in the gulf of Bassora, near that city. 
It is no more visible here till 1874, Oct. 10, the centre 
being now about to leave the earth, whence the central 
and annular phase is exhibited only to a very small 
portion of country north-east of Russia. Ferguson 
says, " that about the year 2090 the whole penumbra 
would be worn off, whence no more returns of this 
eclipse could happen till after a revolution of 10,000 

Return of the Cycles of Eclipses, 81 

years/' In this he is wrong ; I find the same eclipse 
will continue to return for a much longer period, before 
it entirely leaves the earth. It would be visible in 
this country again as a partial eclipse in Nov., 1928 ; 
Dec, 1982; Jan., 2037; Feb., 2091, &c. In like man- 
ner an eclipse of the moon, after coming on as a very 
small obscuration, will get larger at every eighteen- 
year return, till at length it becomes total. It will 
continue so for several periods, and then gradually 
diminish until it goes ofi". A lunar eclipse, which had 
commenced a few hundred years ago, was still total 
on July 18, 1692, when it was observed by Flamsteed. 
Every eighteen years it became smaller and smaller. 
At its return in 1800, its magnitude was two-tenths, 
in 1836 less than one-tenth. On the morning of 
Nov. 15, 1872, this eclipse returned for the last time, 
and would have been seen to obscure only one-fiftieth 
part of the moon's diameter, if clouds had not in- 

To take another example. An eclipse of the moon 
first became visible in June, 1835, as an obscuration 
of one-thirteenth of her diameter. It returned in 1853 
and 1871, increasing each time. It comes round again 
in 1889, as an eclipse of nearly half the moon. In 
1907 it will exhibit a magnitude of six-tenths, and 
so forth. 

8? Curious Phenomenon in Eclipse of 1927. 



On the morning of June 29, 1927, there will be the 
next solar eclipse in England in which anything in 
the shape of totality can be seen. To those who will 
be stationed in a line drawn from the Isle of Anglesey 
across Northumberland, the sun will appear totally ob- 
scured for just a few seconds. Here, therefore, and in 
Norway and Sweden, a curious phsenomenon may be 
noticed, viz. the appearance of the red flames, not as 
prominences, but as a ring of red light surrounding 
the sun. The probable appearance of such a phgeno- 
menon in a slightly total eclipse of the sun was pointed 
out by Professor Grant, in a paper contributed to the 
December meeting of the Royal Astronomical Society 
in 1871. The eclipse of June 29, 1927, seems to afford 
such an opportunity as the Professor wished to find 
out. Although this eclipse, then, is but an apology for 
a total one, it may acquire an interest of its own for 
our posterity. Professor Grant says, " Since the ap- 
parent diameter of the moon sometimes exceeds, some- 
times equals, and sometimes falls short of the apparent 
diameter of the sun, it is obviously possible, that the 
existence of such an envelope may be occasionally re- 
vealed by the phaenomenon of a circle of red light sur- 
rounding the moon's disc, during slightly total eclipses 
of the sun. No instance, however, of such an occur- 
rence has been recorded in the annals of telescopic 

Future Eclipses, 83 

observations of solar eclipses." " Seeing that when 
a great number of solar eclipses, observed indifferently 
with respect to the limiting lines of the moon's shadow 
or penumbra, are taken into consideration, the slight 
overlapping of the moon takes place at all parts of the 
solar disc, and that wherever this overlapping really 
does occur, there is visible at the moon's disc an arc 
or band of red light, the existence of such a margin of 
light becomes thus inductively traceable round the 
entire contour of the solar disc.'' 


The following list of eclipses in future years was 
undertaken at first for my own information and curi- 
osity. Delambre has left behind him a list of the 
transits of Venus for a period of two thousand years. 
Curiosity may, therefore, be gratified by some examina- 
tion of the eclipses for a fourth of this period. Bishop 
Pearson remarks, "Again, for the calculation of eclipses, 
as it may be made for many thousands of years, and 
be exactly true, and yet the world may end to-morrow, 
because the calculation is made with this condition, if 
the bodies of the earth, sun and moon, continue in 
their substance and proper motion so long ; so it may 
be made for millions of years past, and be true, if the 
world have been so old, which the calculation does not 
prove, but supposed" The question of future eclipses 

« Pearson on Creed, Art. Maker of Heaven and Earth. The Bishop 
is here shewing the non-eternity of the world, from the fact that 

84 Future Eclipses. 

was gone into in some measure in the last century. 
In the Memoires of the French Academy (1768),, there 
is a paper by M. du Vaucel on the Solar Eclipses visible 
at Paris after 1767, but it goes no further than 1900. 
This catalogue was computed from the tables of Mayer 
to gratify the French, king, who was anxious to know 
whether a total or annular eclipse was going to happen 
soon. Hallasckha's list of eclipses does not go beyond 
the limits of the present century. For the following 
eclipses, which will be visible in England during the 
next forty years, I have used the same tables as lor 
the ancient ones. 

1874. Eclipse of sun, Oct. 10, lOh. (morn.), magni- 
tude between three and four-tenths on the upper limb. 
Total eclipse of the moon on Oct. 25, of which a partial 
phase will be visible to us. The transit of Yenus, on 
the morning of Dec. 9, cannot be seen nearer than 
eastern Russia. 

1875. Eclipse of sun, soon after noon, Sept. 29 ; 
but only one-tenth on the extreme south of the sun's 
face. In the north of England the magnitude will be 
almost nil. There will be an occulation of Spica Vir- 
ginis on the morning of Nov. 23. Immersion behind 
the moon's bright limb 7h. 25m., emersion 8h. 37m. 

heathen historians and poets can find no theme before the Trojan 
and Theban wars, and the adventure of the Argonauts. He said that 
" although the Egyptian priests gave a catalogue of ecUpses of the 
sun and moon for myriads of years, it does not follow that they were 
taken from observation, but merely from proleptical supposition." 
Mr-Wniiam Chapman, of Foxton, Leicester, computed all the solar 
ecUpses between 1766 and 2000. I have found it, in the main, correct, 
but there are a few omissions and errors in his list ; the ecUpse of 
1900 is omitted, &c. 

Future Eclipses, 85 

The moon at the time will be a crescent, and thouyjli 
daylight has just arrived, a small telescope, screened 
from the sun, will exhibit it as an interesting sight. 

1876. Two eclipses of the moon, each of about one- 
quarter of her diameter; the first on March 10, in 
which the moon sets eclipsed ; the other on Sept. 3, 
9^h. (evening). The Pleiades will be occulted by 
the moon this year on Oct. 6, Nov. 30, Dec. 28. No 
very great optical power will be needed to view this 
pleasing phaenomenon. On Feb. 28, 1860, I witnessed 
the occultation of three stars of the group, through an 
old ship glass, with a power of 16. 

1877. This year we shall have two visible total 
eclipses of the moon; that on Feb. 27 begins about 
moon-rise (why should we not use this word as well 
as sun-rise), and ceases about nine o'clock. The other, 
on Aug. 23, lasts from nine till one. 

1878. An eclipse of six-tenths of the moon's lower 
limb at midnight, Aug. 12. At the preceding new 
moon, July 28, there will be an eclipse of the sun, 
total in the western parts of America, as for instance 
at Denver, in Colorado; also in the Island of Cuba. 
Denver, where the sun's altitude will be pretty high, 
offers the next best temptation to the amateur who 
wishes to observe a total eclipse of the sun. The town 
is easily reached by the Great Pacific Railway. A*de- 
scription of it is given in " Good Words" for January 
and March, 1873. 

1879. Dec. 28. Small insignificant eclipse of the 
moon. The middle, under two-tenths of her diameter, 
is soon after she rises. 

1880. On Dec. 16 the moon rises towards the end of 

86 Future Eclipses. 

the total phase of an eclipse. On Dec. 31 the sun is 
between three and four-tenths eclipsed, on the upper 
limb, about J to 3h. in the afternoon. 

1881, Dec. 5. An eclipse of the moon commences 
below the horizon. At the middle, when the moon 
will have risen above an hour, only a crescent of less 
than a tenth of her diameter will remain uncovered 
at the lowest point. 

1882. On the morning of May 17, there is a small 
eclipse on the sun's south limb, but a fourth of his 
diameter being obscured ; middle, about 6h. 50m. In 
Upper Egypt, Persia, and across the Red Sea, about 
the little island of Shadwan, this will be total. The 
probable clearness of an eastern climate will offer in- 
ducement for observers; but the duration of totality 
is short. 

1882, Dec. 6. Transit of Venus, partly visible in 

1883, Oct. 16. A small partial eclipse of the moon 
this morning, which will only be seen for about half- 
an-hour in this country, the moon then descending 
below the horizon. 

1884, Oct. 4. Total eclipse of the moon lOh. Oc- 
cultations of Aldebaran may be expected about this 

1886, Aug. 29. An eclipse of the sun, not visible 
here, but total at Grenada soon after 7h. a.m. for three 
minutes, the sun's altitude 20^ The greatest duration 
of the total phase, six minutes, an extraordinary length, 
falls on the Atlantic; so that it cannot be observed 
to full advantage. Some meteorological observations 
taken on the east side of Grenada in August, 1873, 

Future Eclipses, 87 

shew the sky nineteen days cloudy, and twelve clear 
about an hour after sunrise; not much better than 

1887, Aug. 3. Four- tenths of the moon obscured, 
8f h. p.m. At the following new moon, Aug. 19, there 
is an eclipse of the sun, which at one time was thought 
likely to prove total in England, but upon more ac- 
curate examination, the whole phaenoraenon is found 
to end here just after the sun has risen. The total 
phase is presented to view in Eastern Europe and Asia, 
commencing in Germany. At Wilna, the easiest point 
reached from this country, i.e. by steamer to Riga, 
totality comes on less than an hour after sunrise, with 
the sun at an altitude of 10°. The more easterly ob- 
servers can get, the better chance they will have. We 
may apply to this the somewhat poetical description 
given in Moore's Almanack of the eclipse of 1842, hap- 
pening under similar circumstances, that the "lovely 
orb of day, having risen upon the summer scene, will 
appear to sink back into the arms of night, while the 
stars of heaven resume their twinkling." 

1888, Total eclipse of the moon, Jan. 28, llfh. 

1889, Jan. 17. Eclipse of the moon, magnitude 
seven-tenths, SJh. morn. 

1889, July 12. An eclipse of the moon begins below 
the horizon ; at the greatest phase, 9h., when the moon 
will be risen high enough to be pretty well seen, nearly 
half her surface will be obscured. 

1890, June 17. Partial eclipse of the sun, magnitude 
four-tenths, about 9h. 10m. , 

88 Future Eclipses. 

1891, May 22. The termination of a lunar eclipse 
happens above our horizon. 

1891, June 6. One-fourth of the sun*s upper limb 
obscured about 5h. 42m. afternoon. 

1892, May 11. Eclipse of moon, nine-tenths of her 
diameter under obscuration at eleven o'clock. 

1892, Nov. 4. A lunar eclipse, only the end of which 
will be seen, for scarcely an hour in this country. 
Moon rises after totality is over. 

1894, Sept. 15. Eclipse of moon, 4Jh. morn., mag- 
nitude two-tenths. 

1895, March 11. Total eclipse of moon, SJh. morn. 
On the morning of March 26, the sun is eclipsed in 
high northern latitudes, and the obscuration may reach 
us, in a small degree, about half-past ten. 

1895, Sept. 4. The moon sets just after the totality 
of an eclipse commences. 

1896, Feb. 28. Eclipse of moon, magnitude eight- 
tenths, 7|h. afternoon. On the morning of Aug. 19, 
there will be a total eclipse of the sun in Lapland, and 
high northern latitudes. At Tana, iuFinmark, totality 
begins, according to Hind, at 5h. 50m. 53s. morn., 
and lasts If m. Sun's altitude, 15°. 

1898. Three lunar eclipses visible this year. Jan. 7, 
12Jh. night, magnitude little over one-tenth. July 3, 
begins below horizon, magnitude nine-tenths, 9:^h. 
evening. Dec. 27, total llfh. night. 

1899, June 8. One -fourth of the sun obscured, 
5Jh. morn. 

1899, Dec. 17. An almost total eclipse of the moon, 
IJh. morn. 

Future Eclipses, 89 

1900, May 28. Seven-tenths of the sun will be 
eclipsed in England about four o'clock in the after- 
noon. Total across Spain. On the morning of June 13, 
the moon appears just in contact with the earth's 
shadov7, about sunrise. Hence there will be a duski- 
ness or faint penumbra on the lower limb. Full moon 
by the tables I used, 15h. 38m. Sun rises, 15h. 44m. 

Twentieth Centuet. 

1902, April 22. Eclipse of moon, middle about sun- 
set ; moon rises towards the termination of the total 

1902, Oct. 17. This morning the moon sets totally 
eclipsed, but the greater part of the phsenomenon will 
be seen from this country. 

1903, April 11. Eclipse of moon, more than nine- 
tenths obscured, 12ih. night. 

1905, Feb. 19. Eclipse of moon, magnitude one- 
third of her diameter, 7h. night. 

1905, Aug. 15. About three-tenths of the moon ob- 
scured, 3Jh. morning. The moon will be getting near 
the horizon at the termination of the eclipse. 

1905^ Aug. 30. Eclipse of the sun, the magnitude 
will be eight-tenths in the south of England, in the 
northern parts of the kingdom less than this. Total 
over Madrid, and about the centre of Spain. 

1906, Feb. 9 (morn.) A total eclipse of the moon, 
but the moon sets soon after totality has been at- 

1907, July 25. The moon begins to be eclipsed an 
hour before sunrise. The greatest obscuration would 

90 Future Eclipses. 

amount to six-tenths of the moon's disc, but will not 
be seen from this country. 

1908, June 28. Little more than one-tenth of the 
sun eclipsed, 5h. 35ra. p.m. 

1909, June 4. Total eclipse of the moon, IJh. 

1909, Nov. 27. The first half of a lunar eclipse 
will be seen for about half- an -hour, and then the 
moon sets. 

1910, Nov. 16. Total eclipse of moon, 12ih. night. 

1911, Halley's comet is due about this time. 

1912, April 1. Partial eclipse of the moon, mag- 
nitude only two-tenths, lOjh. night. 

1912, April 17. The next solar eclipse in England, 
of considerable size. At London I make the greatest 
obscuration to come on at I2h. 22m. (noon), nine- 
tenths of the sun's lower limb being obscured. In 
the western and northern parts of the kingdom, the 
magnitude will be slightly less than at London. It 
is a return of the eclipse of 1858. In 1912 the cen- 
tral and annular phase, which, however, will be almost 
total, passes along the north of Portugal and Spain, 
then a little west of Paris, and afterwards across Bel- 
gium ; so it will not visit us in England, but merely 
leave a large partial eclipse for our gaze ^. 

1914, March 12. Nine-tenths of the upper part of 
the moon eclipsed, 4:^h. morning. 

* In this case, on the central line, instead of an unnatural gloom, 
the spectators will be entertained with a thin ring of light encom- 
passing the moon's dark body on every side, beautiful to behold ; but 
this appearance will be of very brief duration. 

Future Eclipses, 91 

1914, August 21. Eclipse of the sun, of which 
a partial view will be afforded to Great Britain. At 
London two-thirds of the sun's disc will be eclipsed 
at noon. In the western parts of the country, and in 
Ireland, the size will be a little less than this. The 
totality of this eclipse occurring about noon-day will 
be a most striking phaBnomenon. It can be viewed 
as near as Norway and Sweden. Drontheim and 
Stockholm will probably be within the belt of the 
total phase. 

The next remarkable eclipse after this occurs on 
April 8, 1921, and is evidently annular about the 
Shetland Isles, or Orkneys, and, consequently, the 
next central eclipse we shall have in Great Britain. 
After that of 1927, the next eclipse that is of some 
magnitude is on June 30, 1954. At London, be- 
tween eight and nine-tenths of the sun's upper limb 
are obscured about half-past twelve. The total phase 
passes just north of the Shetland Islands; so it may 
be viewed by a short trip out to sea. The eclipse of 
1999 has been found by Mr. Hind to be total in the 
south-west of England, continuing so for two minutes 
at Plymouth, Torquay, Weymouth, &c. 

The size of each eclipse is expressed by the old me- 
thod of digits, or twelfth parts of the sun's surface ; 
M. signifies morning, a. afternoon. Column (1.) gives 
date, (2.) approximate time of greatest obscuration, (3.) 
digits, or twelfth parts of the sun's diameter eclipsed. 





(2.) (3.) 

1905, Aug. 30, 

1.4 a. 


1912, AprU 17, 

0.25 a. 11 

1908, June 28, 

5.40 A. 


1914, Aug. 21. 

11.57 m. 8 


Future Eclipses. 







1916, Feb. 


sets eclipsed 

1959, Oct. 


0.21 M. 


1919, Nov. 



1961, Feb. 


7.28 M. 


1920, „ 



1966, May 


9.28 M. 


1921, April 


8.53 M. 


1968, Sept. 


10.15 M. 


1922, March 28, 

2.8 a. 


1971, Feb. 


9.31 M. 


1925, Jan. 


3.50 A. 


1972, July 


8.3 a. 


1927, June 


5.12 M. 


1973, Dec. 


sets before 

1928, Nov. 


8.28 M. 


the middle 

1929, „ 


11.37 M. 


1975, May 


6.29 M. 


1936, June 


4.15 M. 


1976, April 


10.17 M 


1939, April 


6.19 A. 


1982, Dec. 


8.16 M. 


1942, Sept. 


4.20 A. 


1984, „ 


6.13 a. 


1945, July 


1.57 A. 


1994, May 


6.45 A. 


1949, April 


7.29 M. 


1996, Oct. 


2.27 A. 


1952, Feb. 


8.55 M. 


1999, Aug. 


10.8 M. 


1954, June 


0.28 A. 


In all cases projections were made for London. 

Eclipses op the Twentt-fiest Centfkt. 

Those of 2026 and 2081 appear to be total in France, 
that of 2093 is annular in England. In 2090 there is 
an eclipse about twenty-five minutes before sunset, 
total along the south coast, as e.g. Cornwall, Devon, 
and Dorset s. 


(2.) (3.) 

2003, May 31, rises eclipsed 

2005, Oct. 3, 

2006, March 29, 
2008, Aug. 1, 
2011, Jan. 4, 
2015, March 20, 
2017, Aug. 21, 

9Jh. M. 7 
10| M. 3 
9 m. 2 
sunrise 8 
9^ M. 10 
7 a. 2 


(2.) (3.) 

2021, June 10, 



2025, March 29, 



2026, Aug. 12, 

6 a. 


2027, „ 2, 

9 m. 


2028, Jan. 25, 



2030, June 1, 



2036, Aug. 21, 

6 a. 


8 Mr. Maguire, of Norwich, has informed me that he considers 
Brighton just within the north limit of totality. 

Future Eclipses. 








2037, Jan. 




2076, Nov. 


11 M. 


2038, July 


2 a. 


2079, May 


11 M. 


2039, June 




2080, Sept. 




2048, „ 




2081, „ 




2050, Nov. 


2 a. 


2082, Feb. 


4 A. 


2053, Sept. 




2088, AprU 




2059, Nov. 


8 m. 


2090, Sept. 




2060, April 




2091, Feb. 


10 m. 


2066, June 




2092, „ 




2069, April 


10 m. 


2093, July 




2075, July 




Eclipses of the Twenty-second Centuky. 

For this century I find the four following very large 
eclipses : — 

2135, Oct. 7. 
2142, May 24. 
2151, June 14. 
2200, April 14. 

Greatest phase hour 7| m. 

M „ 8|M. 

,» >> »» "5 A* 

» 5|A. 

Those of 2135 and 2200 seem total in this country 
north of London, but in the last instance the duration 
could only be for a few seconds. 

The eclipse of 2151, June 14, appeared at first total 
at London, but on projecting a second time, I obtained 
a thin crescent on the sun's disc. Hind computes the 
central line to go through Garstang in Lancashire, 
and that totality would last between two and three 
minutes at Shefiield. Maguire has made the central 
line to pass Ayr, Penrith, and Cromer. To speak 
about this is the same as if an astronomer in the latter 
years of Queen Elizabeth's time had written a pre- 
diction about an eclipse at the present day. 

94 Future Eclipses, 


Omitting cases in which the sun's serai- diameter ex- 
ceeds the moon's, there seems no eclipse of any im- 
portance, none in which the line of totality approaches 
our shores. There is a nine-year period, producing 
eclipses of some size in May of the following years, 
2227, 2236, 2245, 2254. 


In the first half of this century, I did not find 
the " celestial sight " of which I was in search. But 
on July 21, 2381, there is a fine eclipse of the sun, 
which seems total in the more northern counties of 
England. The moon is near perigee, the sun near 
apogee. The middle is soon after ten in the morning. 

Having arrived at this distant period, five hundred 
years hence, we may now pause. One thing is notice- 
able, that if this long search be accurate, it has not 
revealed one solar eclipse total at London. 

Should the present economy of things be spared so 
long, we cannot conceive what will be the state of as- 
tronomical science at that distant date, except, per- 
haps, by comparing its present state with that of some 
hundreds of years past. Of this we may be certain, 
that as the phsenomena we have described have excited 
men's marked attention from the earliest days, so they 
will continue to do till the end of time. 

^ We must wait till this century before Easter Sunday falls again 
on March 22, its earliest possible date, a.d. 2285. It did so the last 
time in 1818. It falls on April 25, its latest date, in 1734, 1886, 1943, 
2038. It feU on April 24 in 1859, but wiH not do so again tiU 2011. 



PSALM xix. 1, 

The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firma- 
ment sheweth His handy-work, 

T'HE science of Astronomy appears to have been cul- 
tivated by the immediate descendants of Adam : 
for Josephus informs us that the sons of Seth em- 
ployed themselves in it, and that they wrote their ob- 
servations on two pillars, one of brick, the other of 
stone, to preserve them against the destruction which 
Adam had foretold should come on the earth. He 
also relates that Abraham " read lectures in astronomy 
and arithmetic to the Egyptians, which they under- 
stood nothing of, till Abraham brought them from 
Chaldaea into Egypt, and from there they passed to the 
Greeks.'^ Berosus also observes that " Abraham was 
a great and just man, and famous for his celestial ob- 
servations," the making of which these sages thought 
so necessary to the human welfare, that they assign 
it as the principal cause of the Almighty's prolonging 
the life of man. For the same author, giving an ac- 
count of the longevity of the antediluvians, says, that 
" Providence found it necessary for the study and ad- 

96 Celestial Sights. 

vancement of virtue, and for the improvement of Geo- 
metry and Astronomy, which required at least six hun- 
dred years for making and perfecting observations." 
An observer, without any instrument, may do much 
that will gratify himself, and be of advantage to man- 
kind. He may note down the positions of the stars, 
follow the wanderings of tlie planets, observe eclipses, 
record the tracks of meteors. As to utility, let us 
remember the calendar was altered and set right, 
from observations made before the invention of the 

We are not about to teach astronomy here, but 
rather, to use the words of the Hon. Mrs. Ward, to deal 
with observation, "shewing how the stars appear in their 
season, coming back year after year in their appointed 
time, while the stately planets move in their solemn 
paths among the stars, as they have done before our 
time, and will do when we have passed away." The 
observation of the starry heavens was carried on in 
the earliest time in the plains of Clialdaea, and still the 
observer should endeavour to get an unobstructed po- 
sition, at any rate, towards the east, south, and west. 
After all, much will depend on climate. For an object 
to be astronomically visible and really visible are two 
different things. Astronomers assure us of the first, 
but only a clear and tranquil sky can give us the 
second. For those who have very large telescopes, 
and who are not disposed to take them to oriental 
climates, it would be useful to have records of the 
number of clear nights in different parts of the king- 
dom. By clear nights, let us understand nights cloud- 
less, or nearly so, till 11 p.m., or else clear for a full 

Celestial Sights. 97 

hour or two. Formerly my observations were taken 
in South Lancashire, but since the early part of 1870 
in Devonshire. In 1859 the number of nights clear, 
partly or throughout, was sixty ; in 1860, forty-three ; 
in 1861 and 1862, forty-six each ; in 1863, forty-seven ; 
in 1864, eighty-three; in 1865, eighty-two; in 1866, 
seventy-seven ; in 1867, fifty-five ; in 1868, sixty-two ; 
in 1869, fifty-eight ; in 1870, a hundred and twelve ; 
in 1871, ninety -eight; in 1872, ninety; in 1873, 

The Stjn. 

The solar orb, as the great centre of our system, 
must first claim our notice. When viewed with the 
telescope, we shall perceive a number of dark spots on 
the surface. Our countryman Harriot seems to have 
detected them with a telescope as early as 1610. About 
the same time they occupied the attention of Fabricius. 
The latter does not seem to have used any dark glass 
to mellow the sun's rays, but observed when the sun 
was near the horizon, and his brilliancy impaired. The 
nucleus or dark kernel of a sun-spot is surrounded 
by an umbra or lighter part. "When approaching the 
sun's limb, first the umbra and then the nucleus con- 
tract, and appear fore-shortened. Spots of nearly 1' in 
diameter are visible to the naked eye, through a piece 
of smoked glass or through a fog. These spots take 
different curved paths across the sun at different times 
in the year. At the beginning of June and December, 
however, they are seen to move in straight lines. They 
are most plentiful every eleven years, as in 1859 and 


98 Mercury. 

1870. The sun is, of course, viewed by means of a 
dark screen glass put on the eye-piece. It is also ad- 
visable, except near sunrise and sunset, to use a dia- 
gonal prism, which will give us only a portion of his 
disc, otherwise there is a danger of the glass being 
cracked by the heat, and instances of this have occurred 
even with a 2\ in. telescope. Besides the dark spots, 
certain bright streaks are, at times, to be seen on the 
sun; they are not very easy of observation, but I have 
on a few occasions found them within reach of 2J in., 
the best observation of this sort being on Dec. 21, 1869. 
In high latitudes, the phsenomenon of a " parhelion," 
or mock sun, is often seen, a luminous halo surround- 
ing the sun, with three or four images of the sun on it. 
One or two mock suns, imperfectly formed, may oc- 
casionally be seen in England ; the last time I noticed 
the phsenomenon was on Jan. 19, 1872. It is rare to 
see the mock suns perfectly formed in our country. 
The "Saxon Chronicle" records that in 1104, on the 
Tuesday after Pentecost, "four circles were seen at 
midday about the sun, of a white hue, each described 
under the other, as if they were measured." 


Sometimes, in spring, a little object like a first-mag- 
nitude star may be seen following the sun, while the 
twilight yet remains. If the amateur notices this, he 
will not see it for more than a few successive nights. 
Mercury never departs more than 29^ from the sun. 
At the end of the year, he is too near the horizon to 
be descried after sunset ; and in summer, the twilight 

Mercury. 99 

is too strong. The best time is about an hour after 
sunset in March, and about an hour before sunrise in 
September; I have never seen Mercury in the morn- 
ings, but have several times been able to detect him 
with the naked eye after sunset; three times in 1858, 
(April) ; three times in March, 1860 ; three times in 
February, 1862 ; once in April, 1865 ; once in February, 
1868; once in April, 1871; twice in 1872; and twice 
in March, 1873. Dr. Dick, in his " Celestial Scenery," 
speaks of seeing Mercury with the naked eye three or 
four times. In Humboldt's CosmoSj there occurs the 
following passage about the planet : — " If we remember 
how much from the earliest times the Egyptians were 
occupied with the planet Mercury (Set, Horus), and 
the Indians with their Budha; how, under the clear 
sky of Western Arabia, the star worship of the tribe 
of the Asedites was directed exclusively to Mercury, 
and that Ptolemy in the ninth book of the 'Almagest,' 
was even able to avail himself of fourteen observations 
of the planet, extending back to 261 years before our 
era, and belonging in part to the Chaldaeans ; we shall 
be surprised that Copernicus, who lived to attain his 
seventieth year, should have had to complain on his 
death -bed, that much as he had tried, he had never 
seen Mercury. Nevertheless, the Greeks designated 
the planet, and justly so, the 'strongly sparkling,' 
(ttIX^cov, on account of its occasional intense light." 
The amateur may look out for Mercury a little after 
sunset, near the western horizon, on the following 
dates, and a few days before and after: — 1874, Feb. 
26; 1875, Feb. 8; 1876, Jan. 24; 1877, Jan. 10 (per- 
haps), April 29; 1878, April 10; 1879, March 26; 

100 Mercury, 

1880, March 7; 1881, Feb. 20; 1882, Feb. 2; 1883, 
May 6 ; 1884, April 18 ; 1885, March 31 ; 1886, 
March 15. The apparitions of the planet are repeated 
much the same, every thirteen years ; for instance, he 
will come round in a similar manner in 1887 to 1874, 
or thirteen years previously, in 1861. 

At certain times, Mercury transits the disc of the 
sun, appearing like a circular black spot. The first 
time this was seen was by Gassendi, at Paris, in 1631. 
In 1651, a young Englishman, Jeremiah Shackerley, 
made a voyage to Surat, to observe a transit of Mer- 
cury, which his calculations told him would not be 
visible in England. It is satisfactory to know that he 
was successful in his wishes. Ten years afterwards 
there was another transit of Mercury. Thomas Street, 
in his Astronomia Carolina, thus describes it in his 
quaint way. We give his own words: "Anno 1661, 
April 23, being the day of the coronation of our Most 
Gracious Soveraign, King Charles the Second, that 
iugenioas Gent. Christianus Hugenius of Zulichem, 
Mr. Reeves, with other mathematical friends, and my- 
self, being together at Long Acre, by the help of 
a good telescope, with red glasses for saving our eyes, 
saw Mercury from a little past one until two of the 
clock, appearing in the sun, as a round black spot, 
below and to the right hand, so that in the heavens 
he was above and to the left from the sun's centre, 
and entered on the sun much about one of the clock." 
The diameter of Mercury to the diameter of the sun 
seemed scarce so much as 1 to 100. At the transit 
in 1799, a luminous ring was observed surrounding 
Mercury, in its passage across the sun, indicating 

Mercury. 101 

probably an atmosphere of considerable density. On 
the morning of Nov. 12, 1861, I caught sight of Mer- 
cury, when transiting the sun, with an old ship-glass, 
carrying a power of about 16. He appeared as a most 
minute black spot. This shews the impossibility of 
some ancient legends, of Mercury and Yenus being 
seen on the sun^s disc for a long time with the 
naked eye. 

The next transit is on May 6, 1878, when we shall 
see Mercury entered on the sun's disc about three 
o'clock in the afternoon. The following transit in 1881 
is not to be seen in England. There is another on 
May 10, 1891, when Mercury passes oiF the sun soon 
after sunrise, so we may observe something of it, if the 
sky is very clear. Again, on Nov. 10, 1894, the in- 
gress of Mercury on the sun takes place just before 

Suspicious-looking spots have been seen on the sun 
at various times, one especially by Dr. Lescarbault at 
Orgeres, in France, March 26, 1859. This was so far 
taken up by some astronomers that they called it the 
planet Yulcan. At any rate, it is worth while for ob- 
servers to scrutinize the sun carefully, about the end 
of March and the end of September, to verify this 

On April 25, 1838, there was an occultation of Mer- 
cury by the moon under most singularly favourable 
circumstances. It happened during the few days when 
the planet is visible to us after sunset. The immersion 
was at 8h. 29m., the emersion at 9h. 2m., the moon 
setting at 9h. 24m. 

If we want to turn our telescopes on Mercury, it 

102 Venus. 

must be done in the daytime. When visible to the 
naked eye, he is too much in the mists of the horizon 
for a distinct view with anything but a very low 
power. Little or nothing has been made out definitely 
with regard to markings on the planet. At one time, 
it was considered some decisive results had been ob- 
'tained, and Schroeter spoke of lofty mountains on the 
surface, but one does not hear of modern observations 
confirming this. 

The sun would appear to Mercury seven times larger 
than he does to us, and to Neptune he would have 
dwindled to a star in the firmament. Hence we might 
infer extreme heat in the one case, and extreme cold 
in the other. The thickness of atmosphere might, 
however, answer to ward off great heat in Mercury, 
and in Neptune the same cause might prevent extreme 
cold. At any rate, the Creator can suit the constitu- 
tion of inhabitants to their dwelling. The Neptunians, 
if such there be, may have the same opinion of the 
heat of some planets nearer the sun that we have of 
the climate of Mercury. 


"Ea-nepos oy koKXio-tos ev ovpavm torarai da-Trjp. — Somer. 

This planet is frequently so brilliant as to be gazed 
at with wonder by the most casual observer. It has 
excited the admiration of every clime and age of the 
world, whether shining in the west after the sun has 
gone down, or heralding the approach of day in the 
morning skies. It is spoken of by Homer and Hesiod, 
the most ancient of the poets. 

Venus. 103 

The phases of Venus are one of the easiest objects 
for a small telescope, nor is there much difficulty in 
seeing it in the daytime with such means. On May 
11, 1871, I picked up Yenus and Jupiter with a 2 J in. 
telescope, about noon, when they were very near toge- 
ther, the brilliant silvery colour of the former contrast- 
ing strongly with the faintness of Jupiter when seen 
in daylight. Venus was occulted by the moon so as 
to be visible in England twice in 1841, once in 1867, 
but each time in daylight. Again, on Oct. 14 of the 
present year, 1874, Venus will disappear behind the 
moon*s dark limb at 3h. 27m., and re-appear at the 
bright limb at 4h. 42m. The moon at the time is four 
days old ; and Venus will appear through the telescope 
as a crescent a little wider than the moon. As the 
sun sets at 5h. 8m., the phaenomenon will be in day- 
light, but there is little doubt it will be visible to 
the naked eye, and even through an opera-glass or 
small telescope it will be a most pleasing spectacle. 
Tycho Brahe, who lived before the invention of the 
telescope, tells us he saw an occultation of Venus on 
May 23, 1587, the planet going behind the moon, 
when the sun was 15° high, and re-appearing when 
the sun's altitude was 29°. 

A small instrument will sometimes shew a slight 
blunting of the cusps of Venus' crescent. Flamsteed 
mentions such a case on Dec. 4, 1671, and I have oc- 
casionally suspected it with 2J in. It is an interesting 
point for observers to notice how long Venus remains 
invisible when in conjunction with the sun. On Oct. 2, 
1843, Dr. Dick perceived the planet within two hours 
of its superior conjunction. 

104 Venus. 

The apparitions of Venus are repeated very much 
in the same way every eight years ; so that any of the 
following years may be multiplied by 8, 16, 24, &c., 
to give the planet's re-appearance in any future year ; 
but telescopic observations should be made in daylight, 
there being too much glare about the planet when the 
sun is absent. 

1874. The planet will not be a very striking object 
this year. It will be visible in the evenings after 
March, but will not remain long above the horizon 
after sunset. At this appearance, which corresponds 
to 1858 and 1866, I have noticed Yenus with the 
naked eye after sunset till the third week in November. 

1875. Not very well suited for observation. Best 
seen in the mornings of January and February, when 
it will appear a fine crescent through the telescope. 
The last fortnight in the year it exhibits the resem- 
blance to a little full moon, and will be visible just 
after sunset. 

1876. Yenus particularly splendid in the evening 
skies till July. She should be observed with the tele- 
scope in May and June, in the daytime. A fine morn- 
ing star from August to the end of the year. 

1877. As seen by the naked eye, Yenus will be 
a fine object in the mornings of January, and in the 
evenings of November and December. In the spring 
and summer months she follows the sun too closely, 
and will need an equatorial telescope to be easy of 

1878. A striking object in the west during the 
evenings of January and the first half of February. 
Through the telescope, Yenus will appear a beautiful 

Venus. 105 

crescent, like the moon a few days after the change. 
A morning star about August and September. 

1879. Visible in the evenings of the spring and 
summer months, and from September to the end of 
the year in the mornings, when through a telescope 
she will appear a beatiful crescent. 

1880. The planet will be especially conspicuous 
during the mornings of January, and the evenings of 
December. In the spring and summer months, it does 
not depart far from the sun, but an equatorial tele- 
scope in the daytime will readily follow it, and even 
one on a plain stand, with a little trouble. 

1881. Very brilliant in the evenings till May ; after- 
wards visible in the mornings till the end of the year. 
A fine crescent in April. 

The markings on Venus are faint, and somewhat 
puzzling. Some observers declare they can detect 
them without difficulty, and papers have recently been 
presented to the Koyal Astronomical Society, stating 
that they have been observed with a Gin. speculum, 
4 in. achromatic, and even 2^ in. ; while Dawes could 
never see them with 8 in., although he was able to 
detect the little companions of Eigel and Polaris with 
far less optical aid than any other observer. It has 
been said that those who are the least successful in 
catching the minute companions of double stars, are 
generally the most likely to see these faint markings. 
Similarly, telescopes which bring out minute points 
of light well, are often not the best for dark streaks 
on the planets, and vice versa. I have frequently ex- 
amined Venus with every power on a 4 in. telescope, 
but as yet have not been able to see any of these 

106 Venus. 

markings for certain. Probably, the observer need 
not employ a high power for the purpose, and the 
search should be made in the day-time. 

Another puzzler is the satellite of Yenus, which 
some observers speak of seeing. The common ex- 
planation is, that a defect in the instrument caused 
the illusion. It is difficult, however, to see how this 
would explain away four observations in 1761, when 
Montaigne saw a small crescent describe about 200'' 
of a circle round Yenus between the nights of May 3 
and 11. If such a body exists, it must be seen as a 
dark spot on the sun near Yenus at some of its tran- 
sits. On this point, the following remarks of Dr. Dick 
are worthy of the attention of observers : — " It is evi- 
dent, that if Venus have a satellite, it must be difficult 
to be seen, and can only be perceived in certain fa- 
vourable positions. It cannot be seen when nearly 
the whole of its enlightened hemisphere is turned to 
the earth, on account of its great distance at such a 
time, and its proximity to the sun ; nor could we ex- 
pect to see it when the planet is near its inferior con- 
junction, as it would then present^ to the earth only 
a very slender crescent, besides being in the imme- 
diate neighbourhood of the sun. The best position 
in which such a body might be detected, is near the 
time of the planet's greatest elongation, and when it 
would appear about half enlightened. If the plane 
of its orbit be nearly coincident with the plane of the 
planet's orbit, it will be frequently hid by the inter- 
position of the body of Yenus, and likewise when pass- 
ing along her surface in the opposite point of its orbit ; 
and if one side of this body be unfitted for reflecting 

Transits of Venus. 107 

much light, it will account in part for its being sel- 
dom seen," We cannot, therefore, entirely disbelieve 
in this supposed satellite of Yenus, till the transits of 
1874 and 1882 are gone by. We must now proceed 
to the transits of Yenus across the disc of the sun. 

These transits, when observed at opposite points on 
the earth's surface, afford the means of obtaining the 
sun's parallax, and hence the distance of the sun, on 
which so much depends. The sight of a transit of 
Yenus was afforded in 1639 to the Rev. Jeremiah 
Horrox, of Hoole, a young Lancashire clergyman, and 
to him first since the creation. Horrox had discovered 
that the transit would happen on November 24. He 
communicated with his friend William Crabtree, of 
Manchester, requesting him to observe especially the 
diameter of Yenus, which, according to Kepler, would 
be 7m. of a degree; according to Landsberg, (whose 
tables were much vaunted at that time,) 11m.; but 
according to his own expectation but Im. Horrox 
observed at intervals on the 24th, being called away 
at other times, he tells us, " by business of the highest 
importance, which I could not, with propriety, neglect 
for these pastimes" (meaning, to perform the Church's 
offices, it being Sunday). But at 3h. 15m., when he 
was again at liberty, the clouds were dispersed, and 
then, says Horrox, " I beheld a most agreeable sight, 
the object of my sanguine wishes, a spot of unusual 
size, and perfectly circular shape, which had already 
fully entered on the sun's disc on the left, so that the 
limbs of the sun and Yenus precisely coincided." 
Horrox was able, in the remaining half-hour before 
the sun set, to make observations as to diameter, in- 

108 Transits of Venus. 

clination, approach of centres, &c. His friend Crab- 
tree, at Manchester, had but one sight of Yenus, at 
3.35, when the sun broke out from the clouds, but he 
was too excited for observation, "scarcely trusting 
hjs own senses through excess of joy," and before he 
recovered himself, clouds came over the sun again. 
Horrox, who appears to have been a prodigy for his 
skill in mathematics and astronomy, died suddenly 
about a month after the transit^. In 1716, Dr. Halley 
pointed out the value of the ensuing transit of June 
6, 1761, mentioning places for observation, and stating 
that the entry of Yenus on the sun would not be visi- 
ble in England, but that it might be seen in the north 
frigid zone, the north coast of Norway, &c. ; that when 
Yenus was nearest the sun's centre, the sun would be 
vertical to the bay of Bengal. Halley urged that ob- 
servations should be made at several places, lest clouds 
should spoil " a sight which, I know not whether any 
man living, in this or the next age, will ever see again ; 
and on which depends the certain solution of a pro- 
blem the most noble, and at any other time not to be 
attained to. I commend it, therefore, again and again 
to those curious scrutinizers of the stars, who, when I 
am gone, will have an opportunity of observing these 
things, that they would remember this my admoni- 
tion.'' Early in the morning, when every one was 
prepared for the transit, the sky was so cloudy as to 
render it doubtful whether anything could be seen; 

* James Gregory, the inventor of the Gregorian telescope, seems to 
have shewn, in 1663, the great advantage to be derived from the 
transits of Venus. 

Transits of Venus. 109 

but at 7^.38.21 the clouds had sufficiently broken at 
Greenwich to allow Venus .to be seen on the sun. 
The centre of Yenus then preceded the sun*s centre 
by 6'.18."9 right ascension, and was south of the sun's 
centre 18'.42'M declination. The internal contact of 
Venus with the sun's limb, was at 8h. 19ra. Various 
observations were obtained here, also at Stockholm, 
Torneo in Lapland, Madras, Calcutta, &c. 

On June 3, 1769, there happened the last transit of 
Venus. As seen from the northern parts of the earth, 
Venus was depressed by a parallax of latitude on the 
sun's disc, so the visible duration of the transit was 
lengthened ; in southern regions, she was elevated by 
a parallax of latitude on the sun, which shortened the 
visible duration of the transit with respect to its dura- 
tion as supposed to be seen from the earth's centre. 
The best observations were obtained by the Danish 
astronomers in Lapland, and by Captain Cooke, who 
was sent to Otaheite to observe the transit. The value 
deduced for the sun's parallax from these transits, was 
8".6. Eecent investigations have, however, led to the 
conclusion that the parallax is 8". 9, and hence the 
sun's distance from the earth three or four millions 
of miles less than was supposed. 

A considerable portion of the last pair of transits, 
1761, 1769, was visible to Great Britain, but we are 
not so fortunate in the next pair; that of 1874 being 
wholly invisible here, and that of 1882 commencing 
a little before sunset. At the last transit, in 1769, 
Dr. Wilson requested the inhabitants of Glasgow to 
put out their fires in the afternoon, that there might 
be no smoke in the air to hinder the observations. It 

110 Transit of Venus. 

is gratifying to know that his request was heartily 
complied with. 

Transit of Dec. 9, 1874. As Yenus, after an interval 
of 105 years, is about to pass over the suo once more, 
astronomers are again on the qui vive. Both the entry 
and departure of the planet from the sun must be ob- 
served at stations where the sun is ascending, and 
secondly, where he is sinking. We have selected eight 
stations, besides Lord Lindsay's private expedition to 
the Mauritius, the Americans eight, the Germans four, 
the French five, the Russians nineteen in East Russia 
and Siberia. 

The transit of Dec. 6, 1882, will be partly visible in 
Great Britain, Yenus being fully entered on the sun 
at 2h. 5m. afternoon, (see frontispiece). So we hope 
this will be seen by many who read these lines, but no 
eye that casts sight on it may ever hope to behold 
a similar spectacle again, for the succeeding transit is 
not till June 8, 2004, when it will be visible through- 
out in this country; commencement at Greenwich, 
5h. 9m. 56s. morn., egress llh. 22m. 15s. morn. At the 
following transit, June 6, 2012, the sun will rise at 
Greenwich an hour before the planet begins to leave 
his disc. The next pair of transits take place on 
Dec. 10, 2117, and Dec. 8, 2125, the ingress of the 
latter being visible here. The succeeding pair fall on 
June 11, 2247 (visible throughout in Great Britain), 
and June 8, 2255, partly visible here. A transit could 
not take place under the most favourable circumstances 
possible till the last on Delambre's list, June 14, of the 
good year 2984, when the centres of Yenus and the 
sun coincide within 0'.45" ! 

The Earth, 111 

The Eaeth. 

As the next planet in order from the sun, our own 
globe will claim space for a few remarks. And here 
we may notice an instance of the Creator's peculiar 
favour to the whole of our world, for as the sun's rays 
are withdrawn from the various parts of it, they get 
the benefit of the moon's reflected light, and by this, 
the darkness of the poles is relieved ; while by half of 
the moon we are never seen, as she only turns round 
her axis during the month she moves round us, always 
presenting the same side to us. On that part of the 
moon that does see us, we should reflect thirteen times 
more light than the moon does on us, and appear thir- 
teen times as large. 

Some two centuries ago, a frenchman discovered on 
a voyage, that when he was near the equator the beats 
of his clock were not so frequent as in his native land. 
In order to make it agree with his time, obtained by 
observing the [stars, the pendulum had to be made 
shorter. Similar experiments were made in other 
places, and at length it was found that this alteration 
diminished, the further one receded from the equator. 
Degrees having been measured in difi'erent parts of 
the earth, it was seen that the figure of our globe is 
that called an oblate spheroid, in other words, some- 
what flattened at the poles, and jutting out a little at 
the equator. 

The ancients, judging from mute gaze at the sky, 
imagined the earth was in the centre, and the sun 
and stars went round it. The absurdity of such an 
idea may be seen by comparing the enormous size of 

112 The Earth. 

a globe like the sun, with a mere spec, such as our 
world. There were, however, some men of deep thought 
and observation. Pythagoras, 600 years B.C., declared 
that the sun was in the centre, and that the earth and 
planets went round it. This system, restored by Co- 
pernicus, will account for all the phsenomena of the 
heavens, which could not be explained if the earth did 
not move round on its axis. If we study our earth 
carefully, we shall see that everywhere it bears marks 
of having undergone a fearful catastrophe. Fossil sub- 
stances, which originally belonged to the sea, have 
been found on the heights of mountains; the bones of 
animals have been discovered in countries the most 
remote from those they inhabit. Again, if we look at 
our maps, we shall see the parts of one continent that 
jut out, agree with the indented portions of another. 
The prominent coast of Africa would fit in the opposite 
opening between North and South America, and so in 
numerous other instances. A general rending asunder 
of the world would seem to have taken place, when 
" the foundations of the great deep were broken up," 
and "the waters prevailed exceedingly upon the earth, 
and all the high hills that were under the whole heaven 
were covered." Such an excess of ocean, covering so 
many millions of acres of ground, such scorching heat 
in one climate, and withering cold in another, do not 
indicate a world made for man in his primeval state, 
but rather after his fall. At the Creation, therefore, 
it is possible that the axis of the earth did not point 
exactly the same as at present, and that a more equable 
temperature prevailed. 

Under the head of " the Earth " we may mention 

The Earth. 113 

the raost remarkable of those commotions called earth- 
quakes in our country. One, in 1185, destroyed the 
church of Lincoln ; another, in 1274, threw down the 
church of Glastonbury ; others occurred as follows : — 
1328, very severe over all England; 1382, several 
churches thrown down in the southern counties ; 1426, 
in the midland counties, accompanied by thunder and 
lightning; 1428, very severe all over England; 1571, 
Herefordshire, Marcley Hill removed, which contained 
twenty-six acres ; 1693, in England, France, and Ger- 
many, 60,000 persons perished in Sicily, Spanish Town 
in Jamaica destroyed; 1703, felt in England and 
Rome, Aquila in Naples destroyed, and 7000 persons ; 
1734, in Ireland, destroyed one hundred houses and 
five churches; 1755, felt in London and many other 
parts of England, the same that destroyed Lisbon ; 
1777, Manchester; 1790, Perthshire, many violent 
concussions, and great variations in the barometer ; 
1850, North Wales; 1852, slight shocks in Man- 
chester ; 1863, many parts of England had slight 

Extremes of Temperature. — The hottest day on re- 
cord in this country is July 14, 1808, when the ther- 
mometer stood at 98*^ in the shade. At other times, 
1750, July 11, therm. 96° ; July 13, 1808, therm. 93« ; 
July 24, 1844, therm. 93°; July 18, 1859, therm. 93°. 
1826, 1868, 1870 were summers of continued warmth 
and dryness. For the coldest winters, we might men- 
tion 1709, 1740; but the coldest month on record was 
January, 1795. Again, on Christmas Day, 1796, and 
on Christmas Day, 1860, the thermometer stood below 
zero. The coldest spring in the present century was 


114 The Earth, 

1837. The years of most rain during the present 
century were 1816, 1828, 1829, 1852, 1853, 1860. It 
often happens that a great fall of rain for a day or two 
may take place in the midst of long drought. 1834 
and 1857 being summers of parching skies and heat, 
brought an amount of water exceeding that of a real 
wet summer. In such rainy summers as 1709, 1816, 
1823, 1860 there were almost continual light falls. In 
the year 768 the Black Sea and the Straits of Darda- 
nelles were frozen over, the snow in some places drifted 
fifty feet high. In 822, the Danube, Elbe, &c., were 
so hard frozen as to bear heavy waggons. In 1134, the 
Po was frozen from Cremona to the sea ; the wine- 
sacks burst, and the trees split from the action of the 
frost with immense noise. In 1316, the crops wholly 
failed in Germany; wheat, which some years before 
sold in England at six shillings the quarter, rose to 
£2. In 1368, the wine distributed to the soldiers was 
cut with hatchets. In 1683, most of the hollies were 
killed. Coaches drove along the Thames (as in 1814), 
the ice of which was eleven inches thick. The Thames 
is said to have been frozen over for fourteen weeks in 
1063; and below bridge to Gravesend, from Nov. 24 
to Feb. 10, in 1434. 

Marshal Bugeaud, when captain in the Spanish 
campaign, under Napoleon I., met with a manuscript 
bearing the following rules, and in after years he found 
they held good from observation. Eleven times out 
of twelve the weather remains the same during the 
whole moon as on the fifth day, if it continues un- 
changed over the sixth ; and nine times out of twelve 
like the fourth day, if the sixth resembles the fourth. 

The Earth and Moon. 115 

In counting the fourth and sixth days we should be 
particular in beginning from the exact time of the 
new moon. 

Most persons are acquainted with the old lines : — 

" Saturday's moon and Sunday full 
Never was fair and never wool (will)." 

In February, 1849, it was proposed, in a scientific 
periodical, to test this, the next Saturday's new moon 
being on March 24. So it happened, that out of 
a tolerable course of dry weather there came more 
wind and rain on that Saturday, followed by a week 
of clouds, slight rain, and snow. Dr. Forster, of 
Bruges, had declared to the Astronomical Society that 
in journals kept by himself, his father and grandfather, 
from 1767 to 1849, every Saturday's moon had, in 
nineteen cases out of twenty, been followed by twenty 
wet and windy days. Qy. Where is the explanation 
to be found ? 

The Mooir. 

When the brightness of the moon overpowers the 
fainter stars the observer will have plenty to do in ex- 
amining her surface. To see anything in the shape of 
intelligent life on the moon is not to be expected. 
The largest telescope ever constructed, Lord Rosse's, 
has a speculum six feet in diameter. Supposing this 
charged with a magnifying power of 6,000 times, (100 
to the inch, an extreme power,) an object in the moon 
would be seen as if forty miles off, a great deal too far 
to discern animal life. A telescope to carry a far 
higher power might be constructed, but the state of 

116 The Moon: 

our atmosphere would render these high magnifiers 
utterly useless. 

It is a curious point to notice how soon we can see 
the crescent of the moon after new. In the spring 
a casual observer may catch sight of it when very clear, 
twenty-four hours afterwards ; but I have hardly ever 
detected it younger than this. A case is related of 
the moon's thin crescent being seen early one morn- 
ing before sunrise, and after sunset the next day. But, 
in the torrid zone, Vespucius is said to have seen the 
moon to the east and west of the sun the same day. 

It would seem that a lunar atmosphere, except of 
great tenuity, does not exist. In some rare cases, a star 
has been seen to linger on the edge of the moon during 
an occultation, instead of popping out instantaneously. 
This has been brought forward as an argument for 
a lunar atmosphere. It has been said to have taken 
place often with the bright red star Aldebaran. Smyth 
says this is "owing to the greater proportionate re- 
frangibility of the white lunar light than that of the 
red light of the star, elevating her apparent disc at 
the time and point of contact." We may here remark 
that the amateur will not find occultations of bright 
stars occur too often. Since that of Eegulus, in 1858, 
I have seen no other but one of Aldebaran imper- 
fectly in 1867. There were several first magnitude oc- 
cultations in 1866 and 1869, but I always met with 
a cloudy sky. 

When the moon is about three or four days old, and 
we see her hanging in the western sky, a faint, ashy, 
grey light is visible all over the unenlightened part of 
her surface ; in other words, the whole circle of her 

The Moon. 117 

surface is clearly seen. This is the earth-light received 
on the moon, the sun^s-light that shines on our earth 
reflected on to the moon. Humboldt tells us that Lam- 
bert, on Feb. 14, 1774, noticed that this light on the 
moon was of an olive-green colour. The moon, which 
then stood vertically over the Atlantic, received the 
earth-light sent to it, in a cloudless sky, from the forest- 
covered regions of South America. 

To enter into a description of lunar objects would be 
impossible within the limits of this little work. The 
best book for this purpose is Webb's " Cycle of Celes- 
tial Objects." By studying the map given there, the 
amateur will very soon become acquainted with the 
principal mountains and plains. When the moon is 
about a day old, I have noticed the mountains called 
Ansgarius, Kastner, Hecatseus; at four or five days 
old, the plains called the Mare Crisium and the Mare 
Fecunditatis come into view pretty well. Shortly after- 
wards they are succeeded by some still larger ones, the 
Sea of Tranquillity and the Sea of Serenity. These 
surfaces, though less rugged than other parts of the 
moon, are by no means universally plain. In fact, 
one of the craters on the Mare Tranquillitatis, called 
Liune, has been the subject of much debate, from 
some fancied alteration. Just as the moon has turned 
the first quarter, a host of fine objects come into sight, 
Walter, Regiomontanus, Purbach, Arrachel, Alphon- 
sus, Ptolemaeus. About this time, the rough-looking 
ramparts of Copernicus, still more rugged with every 
increase of telescopic power, will occupy attention. 
North of Copernicus is the little Pico, casting an enor- 
mous long shadow, in the form of a pyramid. Still 

118 The Moon— Mars. 

further north is Plato, with its dark interior, which 
has gained much interest from the observation of cer- 
tain streaks and spots. As a contrast to this, the ob- 
server will notice two small objects a good way east of 
Plato, when the moon is about two days off her full, 
Aristarchus and Herodotus; the former of them ap- 
pears of a brilliant snowy whiteness. The grandest 
lunar object is certainly Tycho. From this emanate 
a number of peculiar bright streaks, running over 
the moon's surface, and very conspicuous at the full. 
Clavius, south of Tycho, will also be found a magni- 
ficent specimen. It contains many craters in the in- 
terior. Maginus, which lies nearly between the two, 
is a vast ring, and, strange to say, becomes invisible at 
the full. Some jagged mountains will also be noticed 
on the very rim of the moon, the Leibnitz and Dorfel 
mountains. They make the moon's limb appear rough 
and uneven wheu projected on the sun in an eclipse. 
I have found a power as high as 200 on 2 J in. very ser- 
viceable for the moon. Many features may be brought 
out even with a small instrument ; while, to wander 
over the wild and apparently desolate surface of our 
satellite with 185, 300, 420 on 4 inches is absorb- 
ingly interesting. 


Every two years we may notice a fine red star rising 
in the east, as the sun goes down. This is Mars, 
which is so remarkable for the ruddiness of its light, 
and the dark marks which a powerful telescope shews 
on its surface. As its orbit is outside that of our 
earth, we never see it like a half- moon, or a crescent. 

Mars. 119 

if we turn our instrument to it. Sometimes, however, 
it appears a little gibbous, like the moon a few days 
short of the full. The ruddy tint of Mars was once 
ascribed to thickness of atmosphere, but now generally 
to the colour of the soil, such as red sandstone. When 
the planet is near its opposition to the sun, something 
may be seen of the dark marks on its surface, with 
only a small instrument, if really good. After ex- 
amining the planet in May, 1873, with a 4 in. tele- 
scope, I brought out a 2:]^ ^n., and was astonished at 
the distinctness with which it exhibited the dark mark- 
ings, especially on fine evenings. Everything that 
could be seen with 4 in. could be distinctly traced with 
2iin., only smaller, and a little fainter. Flamsteed, 
who had very inferior optical aid, gives us a drawing 
of Mars, taken Oct. 11, 1672, in his Historia Celestis. 
It shews a resemblance to a sun-spot with a penumbra. 
He adds, "Planetse semper circa medium obscuritas 
aliqua apparuit''." At the next opposition, in 1875, 
the planet will be very low in the south, and its dia- 
meter small. But in the autumn of 1877 there will 
be an opposition in the constellation Aquarius, under 
the most favourable circumstances. The planet will 
arrest the attention of the most casual star-gazer. 
Such a case happened in 1719, when Mars, equalling 
Jupiter in splendour, but of a blood-red colour, created 
a perfect alarm among the peasantry in France. 

Several attempts have been made to discover the 
solar parallax by the oppositions of Mars, but they do 
not seem to yield results quite as accurate as the tran- 

»» In my note-book, Sept. 30, 1862, I find I have made a remark in 
almost the same words, using power 70 on 24 inches. 

120 Mars, 

sits of Venus, affected, though the latter are, by irra- 
diation. The first case of this appears to have been by 
riarasteed in 1672. He found the planet would pass 
among the three stars marked i|r in the water of Aqua- 
rius. He tells us, " My father's affairs caused me to 
take a journey into Lancashire, the very day I had 
designed to begin my observations; but God's Provi- 
dence so ordered it, that they gave me an opportunity 
to visit Townley, where I was kindly entertained by 
Mr. Townley, with whose instruments I saw Mars near 
the middlemost of the three adjacent fixed stars. My 
stay in Lancashire was short. At my return from 
there, I took his distance from three of them at dif- 
ferent times of the night ; whence I determined his 
parallax, then 25", equal to his visible diameter, which 
therefore must be its constant measure, and conse- 
quently the sun's horizontal parallax, not more than 
10". The French, soon after, declared, from their ob- 
servations, that they had found the same." 

Some white spots at the poles of the planet have 
been considered to indicate snow, for they vanish after 
being long exposed to the sun, and are largest when 
emerging from the polar winter in Mars. 

The dark markings are considered seas, for water 
will reflect a less quantity of the sun's light than land. 
The proportion of ocean to land on Mars seems just 
the reverse to that on our globe. In the features of 
Mars, the only planet that comes near enough for us 
to scrutinize its surface, we find a striking similarity 
to our own earth. 

The Minor Planets. — The great blank between the 
orbits of Mars and Jupiter had long been considered 

The Minor Planets — Jupiter. 121 

unaccountable. At length, in the year 1800, it was 
resolved that a search should be made for some un- 
known world, and the first day of the present cen- 
tury, Jan. 1, 1801, was signalized by the discovery at 
Palermo of a little erratic star in the constellation 
Taurus. After three others had been detected, these 
little bodies were supposed to be hunted up, but again, 
in 1845, another was found, and since then, every year 
brings us some more. Not to lose sight of these little 
points of light, adds immensely to the labours of our 
celebrated observatories. The amateur must not ex- 
pect to pick up any of them, unless he have a chart of 
stars of very small magnitudes, and then he may com- 
pare this with the heavens, and search for "wan- 
derers.'* Vesta, the brightest of the group, was oc- 
culted by the moon on the night of Dec. 30, 1871. 
I was enabled to catch sight of its re-appearance 
on the moon's dark limb with a power of 70 on 
2i inches. 


Next to Venus, Jupiter is the planet that shines 
with the greatest brilliance, and most attracts the at- 
tention of the commonest observer. When we look at 
Jupiter through a good telescope, we perceive several 
parallel bands stretching across his globe. These were 
first noticed about twenty years after Galileo had ob- 
served the satellites. A very small instrument is suffi- 
cient to bring out one or two of them, and the whole 
four are very easy of observation. Their discovery by 
Galileo in 1610 is related in his Nuntius Sidereus. He 
tells us he first heard of a perspective, made by a Bel- 

122 Jupiter. 

gian, that brought objects much nearer the eye. At 
length, " after sparing no expense and labour," he 
constructed an instrument that performed admirably 
on terrestrial objects, and shewed the moon also to be 
" rough and full of cavities like the face of the earth." 
On Jan. 7, Jupiter being in view, he saw three bright 
little stars near him ; and although he thought they 
belonged to the fixed class, he very much admired 
them, because they seemed in a straight line, and 
parallel to the ecliptic. On Jan. 11, he came to the 
conclusion that there were "three stars wandering 
round Jupiter, like Yenus and Mercury round the 
Sun." On the 13th he found they were four in num- 
ber. He was enabled to observe them till March 2. 
The eclipses, transits, occultations of these little moons 
by the body of Jupiter always prove highly interesting 
to the astronomer. They cannot all be eclipsed toge- 
ther, but by one or two being behind Jupiter, there 
may be an entire disappearance of them for a time. 
Jupiter has thus been seen diyested of his satellites 
four times, once in 1681, and three times in the pre- 
sent century, the last occasion being on August 21, 

The amateur may set his watch correctly by ob- 
serving the eclipses of Jupiter's first satellite, and to 
within a trifle by the second satellite. This may be 
done with a small telescope. The disappearance or 
re-appearance of the first and second takes place very 
rapidly. Both immersion into Jupiter's shadow, and 
emersion from it may often be seen with the third 
and fourth, and this is sometimes the case with the 
second. The eclipses of the third satellite are two or 

Jupiter. 123 

three minutes wrong at times, and those of the fourth 
sometimes as much as twenty minutes at variance from 
the predicted time. Those of the first afi'ord means 
of determining the longitude of places on the earth. 

Many years after these satellites had been discovered, 
it was noticed that the eclipses of them were sixteen 
minutes later, when the earth was at its greatest dis- 
tance from Jupiter, than when it was at its nearest 
point. The conclusion indicated was, that light is not 
propagated instantaneously, but takes a certain time to 
travel from one object to another. 

Besides the belts, certain other spots have occa- 
sionally been seen on the planet. By the revolution 
of one of these, the rotation of Jupiter was found to 
be under ten hours. With such a short day as this, 
the heavens would appear to a spectator on the planet 
to be changing every minute. We may imagine how 
the nocturnal scene from Jupiter must be diversified 
by these four moons, one rising, another high in the 
south, another going down in the west ; at other times 
all the four shining in one glorious assemblage. 

The last occultation of Jupiter by the moon visible 
here took place on May 24, 1860, in daylight. Still 
I managed to catch sight of the planet with an old 
ship-glass, power 16. 

Thomas Street, in his Astronomia Carolinay gives us 
the following : ''Anno 1170, Sept. 13, midnight, two of 
the planets were so conjoined, that it appeared as if 
they had been one and the same star, but they were 
presently separated. (Gervasii Chronicon.) These two 
planets were Jupiter and Mars, being then so near 
together that they appeared as one star." 

124 Jupiter — Saturn. 

On Jan. 9, 1591, Kepler witnessed an occultation of 
Jupiter by Mars, and the red colour of the latter 
clearly indicated that Jupiter was the further of 
the two. 

Our earth would be too small, and too near the 
sun, to be seen from Jupiter ; and Jupiter himself is 
situated but one fourth of the way across our solar 
system. It is a humiliating thought for man's pride, 
that before we could pass one quarter of the distance 
across our own solar system, our world would have 
altogether vanished from sight like an atom in the uni- 
verse, and would be as though it never existed. 


Very diflPerent is the appearance of this planet to 
the naked eye, and the telescope. With the one, it 
is but a dull-looking star of scarcely the first magni- 
tude ; through the other, our eye is attracted by the 
appearance of a singular ring surrounding a globe. 
Gralileo, whose telescope was not powerful enough to 
bring it out as a ring, could not tell what to make of 
its malformation, and so he concluded the planet was 
" triple-shaped." Half a century afterwards, Hevelius 
was enabled to state that it was surrounded by a ring 
"nowhere adhering to it." A few years more passed 
over, and this ring was found to consist of two. Mo- 
dern observations, with gigantic instruments, exhibit 
several other subdivisions of the ring. With a 2 J in. 
telescope, and power 100, a very fair view of Saturn's 
ring may be obtained, and also of one of his satellites. 
Titan, which is equal to a star of the eighth magni- 
tude. Occasionally, I have caught sight of another 

Saturn. 125 

satellite with these means. AVith 4 in. I have no diffi- 
culty in detecting four satellites, when the planet is 
near opposition, and no doubt all the old five would 
lie within its reach at times. The fainter satellites re- 
quire first-class instruments. To obtain a good view 
of the division of the ring even with 4 in., the planet 
must be pretty favourably placed, and not at a low 
altitude. Every fifteen years the ring disappears from 
sight to all but the largest telescopes, the thin edge 
being then turned to the earth. For a few days before 
and after this takes place, the ring has the appearance 
of a fine pencil of light on each side of the planet. 
Such was the case the last time in 1862. The belts 
on Saturn are very faint and difficult of observation 
compared with those on Jupiter. I witnessed occul- 
tations of Saturn by the moon on the evenings of 
May 8, 1859, and Sept. 30, 1870. On each occasion, 
the dull hue of the planet contrasted strikingly with 
the brilliant yellow of the moon. Old Thomas Street 
tells us that Builialdus found an ancient Greek manu- 
script, relating an occultation of Saturn by the moon 
" observed in the year of Christ 503, Feb. 21, at night ; 
in which, near about the fourth hour, the moon hid the 
star of Saturn ; but after Saturn was fully freed from 
the interposition of the moon, the observator, together 
with his loving brother, found the temporal hours by 
an astrolabe 5J, so they conjectured a central conjunc- 
tion of the moon and Saturn about the 5th hour, for 
he appeared to emerge in the middle of the enlightened 
part of her circumference." 

Uranus and Neptune. — If unprovided with an equa- 
torial stand, the amateur will have some difficulty in 

126 The Aurora. 

picking up the two remotest members of our solar 
system, and when he is able to make them out by 
their motion among the stars, they will scarcely repay 
the search. Uranus was occulted by the moon in 1871, 
the time of the occultation shewing the tables to be 
about five minutes wrong. Neptune is about equal 
in light to Saturn's brightest satellite. 

The ArROEA. 

This is a phsenomenon which will attract the atten- 
tion of the observer, especially in "the winter months. 
It is seen in perfection near the poles, and is not 
visible from regions round the equator of the earth. 
It is usually of a whitish colour, occasionally tinted 
with green, but more commonly with red. Sometimes 
it takes the form of an arch of light, but this is not 
often the case in latitudes so far south as Great Britain. 
It has been considered a result of a combination of the 
two powers of magnetism and electricity. Dr. Wykan- 
dar and Lieutenant Parent, having studied the Aurora 
with the aid of the spectroscope, think it related to the 
fall of fine particles of iron and carbon, the presence of 
hydrogen, and probably of snow. The whole phseno- 
menon appears at some periods more frequently than 
at others. Stow, the chronicler, gives us a quaint de- 
scription of a display in the year 1575, wherein " the 
heavens did burn marvellous ragingly.*' Eor a great 
many years the Aurora had not been seen in England 
till March 6, 1716, when there burst into view a bril- 
liant exhibition visible from the west of Ireland to 
Russia. On Feb. 17, 1773, Captain Cook, who was 

The Aurora. 127 

then in southern latitudes, witnessed a fine Aurora 
Australis. Although in most respects similar to our 
northern lights, it differed from them in being always 
of a whitish hue. Of late, it has been found that fine 
displays of the Aurora take place about every eleven 
years, at which period there is also an excessive num- 
ber of solar spots, and a disturbance in Jupiter's belts. 
On May 13, 1869, I observed an Aurora, which caused 
the sky for some time to assume the resemblance to 
an enormous umbrella. Thick columns of light started 
up from the horizon on all sides, and met at a point 
overhead. Though there was no moon or twilight, the 
time could be easily read on a small watch held at 
the distance of a foot from the eye. On the night 
of Oct. 24, 1870, we had a complete arctic display. 
A superb rosy arc extended from north to north-east, 
the heavens there resembling a red curtain illuminated 
from behind, or being like flames erupted from a vol- 
cano. Early in the evening of Feb. 4, 1872, a magni- 
ficent Aurora was seen all over Europe, and at Alex- 
andria, &c. Streamers of a brilliant carmine colour 
sprung up side by side with greenish streamers, gene- 
rally converging to a point overhead. The coruscations 
were intensely vivid. In old times, accounts spoke of 
a crackling sound accompanying the Aurora, but it has 
been well observed that as Aurorse became better un- 
derstood, they also became less noisy. 

The Zodiacal light. — Sometimes in February and 
March, after sunset, an ill-defined light of a conical 
shape may be seen in the west. This is termed the 
Zodiacal light. The first clear notice of it seems to 
have been published by Childrey, chaplain to Lord 

128 Meteors. 

Somerset, in 1661. Tycho Brahe had mistaken the 
phsenoraenon for the evening twilight. On Feb. 21, 
1870, I witnessed this phsenomenon from Lytham, on 
the Lancashire coast. It stretched faintly beyond the 
head of Aries. The extent near the base was from 
about a Pegasi into Cetus. The time was about TJh., 
and twilight had gone. The cause of the zodiacal light 
has been conjectured to be a ring of nebulous matter 
revolving between the orbits of Mercury and Yenus. 


These brief notes on astronomy would be incom- 
plete, were we 'to omit a few remarks on the subject 
of Meteors. Appearing suddenly in the nocturnal 
skies, they sometimes startle the beholder by their size 
and trains. The origin would appear to be some mass 
of nebulous matter. This idea is strengthened by the 
fact that Meteors in abundance enter our atmosphere 
at stated periods ; the most plentiful displays being on 
Aug. 10 and Nov. 13. Those who witnessed the glori- 
ous sight in 1866 will be able to bear this out. At 
Greenwich, on this occasion, 7,000 were counted be- 
tween eleven o'clock and five. Of these, 4,000 were 
between one and two. The November meteors are 
subject to a periodicity of 33 or 34 years. They had 
been seen in great brilliancy on Nov. 12, 1833, in 
America. Between the hours of four and six that 
morning, it was estimated that more than 1,000 per 
minute might have been counted, and they continued 
till the sun's brightness overpowered them. MM. Bon- 
pland and Humboldt saw the previous return, in No- 

Meteors, 129 

veraber, 1799, at Curaana, in South America. From 
the beginning of the spectacle, there was not a place 
in the firmament, equal in extent to three diameters 
of the moon, which was not filled at every instant with 
falling stars. The inhabitants of Cumana stated that 
the earthquakes of 1766 were preceded by similar phse- 
nomena. As the November falls are now declining in 
importance, we must look to the August ones, and they 
are steady and certain. The August stream was often 
termed the " tears of St. Lawrence." Humboldt says 
that, from several years of observation, there were on 
August 9th twenty-nine meteors per hour; on the 
10th, thirty-one; on the 11th, nineteen; on the 12th, 
seven. Clouds and moonlight have interfered with my 
own observations of the August meteors every year, 
except one, 1871, when the nights of the 9th, 10th, 
11th, 12th, were perfectly clear, and the moon absent. 
On the night of the 9th, I noticed ten meteors per 
hour ; on the 10th, thirty-seven ; 11th, twenty ; 12th, 
nine. As only a third or a fourth part of the sky could 
come under my gaze at a time, these numbers would 
have to be multiplied to ascertain the actual number 
passing across the sky at the time. Another minor 
period, but deserving attention, occurs about April 20th. 
Streams of meteors are said to have been seen, in 
former times, about this date. In 1870, I noticed 
several bright meteors on April 18 and 20. The radiant 
point of the August meteors is in the constellation 
Perseus ; that of the November meteors, in Leo. 

Apropos of meteors, there was a communication in 
the "Spectator'' some time back, by:the Rev. E. L. 
Garbett, suggesting that the cities of Sodom and Go- 

130 Origin of Constellations. 

morrah were destroyed by a group of the meteors 
following TempeVs telescopic comet of 1866. 

1. The period deduced for the node-passage of the 
comet's two observed visits, 1366 and 1866, would give 
a visit in the autumn between b.c. 1898 and 1897, in 
one of which years the catastrophe is dated, conse- 
quently in the right biennium out of 164- 

2. The earth's passage of the node was then about 
July 31, and the event was in a hot season (when 
Abraham needed shade at noon, and the visitors pro- 
posed abiding in the street all night). Suppose this 
applicable in Palestine to half the year, we have the 
right half-year out of two. 

3. A fall, as vertical as rain ("then the Lord 
rained ''), was possible, from this source, in no hour 
but that of sunrise. Hence we have the right hour 
out of twenty-four. 

4. Dividing each hemisphere (say) into eight zones 
of latitude, this degree of verticality was possible in 
none of these, but the third north. Hence we have 
the right latitude region out of sixteen. 

5. Sodium, the chief element in the abnormal depo- 
sits, now there (and in the salt with which Lot's wife 
is recorded to have been covered), was also the chief, 
observed by Secchi, in these meteors ; and it is not 
the chief in one-thousandth of the matters on earth. 
But, supposing a twentieth of all matter to display it 
as prominently as the meteors did, we have the right 
chief element out of twenty. 

6. Magnesium, the second in those salt deposits, 
was the only other ingredient conspicuous to Secchi 
in the meteors by means of the spectroscope, and 

Origin of Constellations. 131 

would not be thus conspicuous in one known solid 
out of ten. 

Suppose any event, not due to this comet, to be 
recorded. The chances against the account presenting 
these six agreements with its elements, and no dis- 
agreement, are found by deducting 1 from 16^ x 2 x 
24 X 16 X 20 X 10, that is, three millions to one that 
the history of Sodom is true, and this the physical 

List of 152 Double Stars and NebuloB. 

The ancients divided the starry sphere into constel- 
lations, or groups of stars, just as they lay near one 
another, so as to occupy the spaces which the figures 
of different sorts of animals would take up if they were 
delineated there. The twelve constellations of the 
zodiac stretch round the heavens. They take in the 
orbits of the moon and the principal planets. Along 
the middle of this belt is the ecliptic, or circle, which 
the earth describes every year, if we could see it from 
the sun, and which the sun appears to describe as we 
see it from the earth. The distribution of the stars 
into constellations dates from the first ages of the 
world. The fact that very few constellations really re- 
semble the animal or thing whose name they bear is 
easily accounted for. Our primitive fathers made the 
groups of stars indicate what they wished to perpetuate. 
They did not pick out a group of stars, and think first 
what figure it might faintly resemble. The principal 
constellations were known, as we have them now, 
among all nations, and in all ages. They are recog- 
nised in most ancient monuments. Aquarius has been 
supposed to refer to the overflowing of the Nile; 

132 Origin of Constellations. 

Yirgo, to the harvest in primeval times. But if one 
constellation coincides with a certain season, there is 
seldom a plausible explanation to be given of another. 
A Divine symbolical origin has been suggested. In all 
nations the tradition has prevailed of one, born of 
a woman, engaged in conflict with a serpent, and at 
last triumphing over him. This tradition seems re- 
flected in the emblems of the ancient constellations. 
It has been remarked, that the primitive year must 
have begun in Virgo, the stars of which would shine 
in the evening sky, when the sun was in Aries. " The 
splendid star, still called by us Spica, the ear of corn 
in the woman's hand, marked the leading idea, the 
Promised Seed. In this sign, long before the Chris- 
tian era, there was figured, in the Egyptian zodiac, 
a woman with an ear of corn in her hand, and below, 
another female figure holding an infant. In the next 
sign, Libra, we have His work, which was to buy, to 
redeem, figured in the balance, weighing the price 
against the purchase. Then, in Scorpio, follows an in- 
dication of what that price was to be ; the conflict in 
which the seed of the woman receives the wound in his 
heel, while his other foot is on the head of the enemy, 
here figured by the Scorpion, a venomous reptile, which 
can sting, even whde his head is bruised." — [Rolleston) 
In each other sign of the zodiac, some point in man's 
redemption is said to be indicated, till we come to Leo, 
representing invincible strength, and so the final sepa- 
ration between the good and evil. The feet of Leo 
have always been placed on the constellation Hydra, 
the serpent, thus representing the final crushing of the 
serpent, man's great enemy. It has also been sug- 

Constellations and PrimcEval Alphabet. 133 

gested, that the well-known constellation of the Great 
Bear may, in primitive ages, have been an emblem of 
death. It is probable there might be such an emblem, 
and the Bear would be a very fit animal to represent 
it. Its Arabic name was Banaat n'ash, " daughters of 
the bier." It would pursue its slow constant course, 
like a funeral procession, round the Pole-star, k Dra- 
conis, 4000 years ago. Draco, situated near the Bear, 
has been supposed to indicate the serpent, who sug- 
gested the sin of which death was the penalty. Near 
this, Bootes, with its bright star Arcturus, the Bear- 
keeper, twice mentioned by Hesiod, has been called an 
emblem of Him who controls Death and Satan. One 
of the Arabic names of this constellation is Haris-as- 
Sema, " keeper of heaven." 

According to an ancient Jewish belief, the twelve 
constellations of the zodiac were expressed by the 
first twelve letters of the alphabet. There is a like- 
ness between the position of the chief stars in these 
constellations and the first twelve Hebrew letters, be- 
ginning in Taurus. 

The cipher emblems, by which the twelve zodiacal 
constellations have always been expressed up to the 
present day, also bear some resemblance to the stars 
in each sign. The form of any of these emblems can- 
not be found in any other constellation but its own. 
" If the antediluvians found appropriate ciphers, in 
the twelve signs of the zodiac, to represent the signs 
themselves, it is but going one step further to say that 
they found, in the natural configuration of the con- 
stellations, their one primaeval alphabet. That astro- 
nomy and the primaeval alphabet originated much 

134 Powers of Telescopes, 

about the same time, was an ancient belief, as it is 
by some of the Jewish rabbins in our day/' — [Broome.) 
Yery interesting, even if not convincing, reasons for 
the above statements will be found by Mr. G. J. Walker, 
(quoting from the late F. Rolleston,) Rev. J. H. Broome, 
&c., in the " Astronomical Register '' for Nov., 1867 ; 
Sept., Dec, 1870 ; Sept., 1871. The reader would find 
the perusal of the above articles would well repay his 

"We now proceed to note what objects may be seen 
with a small instrument. Much more may be done 
than one might suppose with such an instrument, as, 
says Mrs. Ward, " we may see at every sixth window, 
on a fine summer's day at a watering-place, its object- 
glass, capable of better things, idly directed to fishing- 
boat or distant steamer, or, still more idly, to some 
unconscious group on the pier.'' A small telescope, 
if the object-glass is really good, will often bear a high 
magnifying power, and with a little practice the ama- 
teur will soon find the use of it. On my 2^ in. achro- 
matic, by Cooke, a power of 200 can be employed with 
advantage ^. On my 4 in., by Wray, a power of 420 
is useful for a lunar crater, or Saturn's ring, and oc- 
casionally for a close double star. The amateur will 
find a very low power the best for comets, a somewhat 
higher one for nebulae, about 40 to the inch of aperture 
for the planets, and about 60 to the inch for double- 
stars. The standard work on double-stars and nebulae, 

* Opticians, however, seem to have a dislike to making these deep 
eye-pieces for small telescopes. The makers refused to supply me 
one for my 2| in. Nearly twelve years after obtaining the instru- 
ment, I managed to procure one from another optician. 

Andromeda. 135 

SmytVs " Cycle of Celestial Objects," was compiled 
from observations taken with a 6 in. glass. Webb, 
in his " Celestial Objects," states the limits of his ^^-^ 
in. to be stars of the eleventh magnitude. "With my 
4 in., stars of the twelfth are readily discernible, when 
sufficiently removed from the glare of a bright star. 
The limit of a 2^ in. is stars of magnitude 8f, and oc- 
casionally magnitude 9. 

From the right ascension, and north or south de- 
clination, the position of any of the following may be 
easily seen, by referring to a star atlas. The dots in 
dicate the double-stars. Of course they will only be 
in this relative position when the object is on or near 
the meridian. The following list contains the double 
stars and nebulae which I have frequently examined 
with 21 in., using powers of 70, 100, 150, 200. 


(1.) •. 7 Andromedse, mag. of the components 34, 
54, dis. 11''. Right ascension 1^ 56'. Decl. north 41f^ 
One of the loveliest objects in the sky, and yet it only 
began to attract attention ninety-six years ago. The 
larger star will be found orange-coloured, the smaller, 
green. The smaller is also double ; a good test for 
a 6 in. achromatic, or an 8 in. reflector. 

(2.) •. 59 Andromedse, mag. 6, 74, dis. 16". r. a. 
2^ 3'. decl. 384« n. 

(3.) •. 175 p. o. Andr., mag. 8, 8, dis. 46". 0^ 39', 
N. 30i°. By referring to S, this object will be easily 

(4.) Nebula 31 m. r.a. 0^^ 36'. Dec. n. 404«. A 
splendid neb. A little patch of hazy light may be de- 
tected by the naked eye, and as such it is mentioned 

136 Andromeda — Aquarius. 

as far back as a.d. 905. Marius, who looked at it 
through a telescope on Dec. 15, 1612, calls it like the 
light of a candle seen through horn. Sir W. Herschel 
imagined it was the nearest of nebulae ; that certain 
parts might be only 2,000 times further off than Sirius, 
but a train going constantly at the rate of sixty miles 
an hour could not reach it under seventy or eighty- 
thousand million years ! 


(5.) •. 26 p. XX. Antinoi, mag. 6^ 7, dis. 3^". 20^ 6', 
N. Oi«. 

(6.) Nebula 11 m. 18^ 44'. s. 6^«. The peculiar 
triangular shape of this neb., which has been compared 
to a flight of wild ducks, may be noticed with a small 

(7.) Nebula 26 m. 18^^ 38', s. 9^«. Much fainter 
than 11 M. The star 97 in Antinous varies from mag. 
3^ to less than the fifth magnitude. Its period is 
7 days 4 hours. 


(8.) .• ? Aquarii, mag. 4, ^. 22^ 2', s. Of^ dis. 2" 
7, in 1842, according to Smyth ; now 3-L". Well worth 

(9.) .• i|r' Aquarii, mag. 5i 9. 23^ 9', s. ^^, dis. 
49^". The uppermost of three similar stars, which 
are thought to have a common motion. 

(10.) Nebula 2 m. 2P 27', s. li«. A fine round neb., 
compared by Sir J. Herschel to " a heap of fine sand." 
It seems to have been first noticed by Maraldi, in 1746, 
when looking after the celebrated comet, which is said 
to have had its tail divided into six parts. 

Aquila — Aries. 137 


(11.) .• 5 Aquilse, mag. 7, 8. 18^^ 40', s. 1°, dis. 13". 

(12.) ; 57 Aquilse, mag. 6i, 7. 19^^ 48', s. 81°, dis. 35". 

(13.) •. 15 Aquilse, mag. 6, 7J. 18^ 58', s. 4i«, dis. 35". 

(14.) : 43 p. XX. Aquila, both 8J mag. 20^ 8', n. 6^°, 
dis. 44". 

The three stars, "a ^ y Aquilse, have been mis- 
taken, by rather green hands, for Orion's Belt. M. Du- 
puis fancifully thought the name was given when the 
sun was near the summer solstice, and that the bird of 
highest flight was chosen to express the greatest eleva- 
tion of the sun." — (Smyth.) In the year 389, a new 
star burst forth near a Aquilse, and vanished in three 

Aego Navis. 

(15.) .• 2 ArgAs, mag. 7, 7^. 7^ 40', s, 14i«, dis. 16i". 

A constellation of great antiquity. Its principal 
star, Canopus, is not visible in England. Smyth says, 
"Etymologists are 'crowding on,' when they derive 
the word canopy from Canopus, as hath been lately 
imprinted ; such sages would see our ' son of a gun * 
in ITat? yvj^s," 


(16.) ♦. 7 Arietis, mag. 4^, 5. 1^ 46', n. 18f^ dis. 
8". 8. 

A very pretty object for a small telescope. Hook 
observed the comet of 1664 pass by this star, which, 
he says, " consisted of two small stars, very near toge- 
ther, a like instance to which I have not elsewhere met 
with in all the heavens." 

138 Aries — Bootes. 

(17.) •. X Arietis, mag. 5i, 8. 1^ 51', n. 23«, dis. 37". 
(18.) .. 30 Arietis, mag. 6, 7. 2^ 29', n. 24«, dis. 38". 


(19.) •. 14 Aurigse, mag. 5, 7i. 5^ 7', n. 32^^ dis. 


There is another very minute companion. 

26 Aurigse ought also to come within the range of 
2 J in. The companion is of the 8th mag., but its 
violet colour rendered it only visible to me by glimpses. 
Light from Capella, the brightest star in Auriga, is 
considered to be seventy years in reaching us. 


(20.) •. K Bootis, mag. 5i, 8. 14^ 9', n. 52i«, dis. 

(21.) •. 4 Bootis, mag. 4i 8. 14^ 12', n. 52°, dis. 38". 
The principal star is also very closely double. 
• (22.) .• TT Bootis, mag. 3i, 6. 14^ 35', n. 17", dis. 6". 

(23.) .• ? Bootis, mag. 3|, 6i. 14^ 45', n. 19f, dis. 
now about 5", forty years ago 7". The actual period 
of the revolution of one star round the other is given 
by Hind at 169 years. 

(24.) : € Bootis, mag. 3, 7. 14^ 39', n. 27f , dis. 2f ". 
In Arabian, izar, " a girdle." Prom the brightness of the 
principal star, and colour of the companion, it is not 
a very easy object even with 4 in. I have, however, 
divided it very plainly in the summer of 1872, with 
power 150 on 2^ in. 

(26.) •. 39 Bootis, mag. 5J, BJ. 14'^ 45', n. 49i«, 
dis. 31". 

Bootes — Cancer, 139 

(26.) •. 44Bootis, mag. 5, 6. 15^ n. 48i«, dis. 2". 9 in 
1830, now 5", An interesting binary. 

Arcturus, the brightest star in Bootes, will long be 
memorable, on account of Donati's comet passing over 
it on Oct. 5, 1858. Many will remember the glorious 
sight it presented. 

Date of Hesiodf ^c. — Arcturus is first mentioned by 
Hesiod, from which it seems there is a difference of 
40 days in the achronical rising of the star since the 
days of the poet, and by allowing 50^'' annually as the 
movement of the equinoxes, we obtain about 2800 
years since the days of Hesiod, who must therefore 
have flourished about the time of Solomon. The change 
between the summer and autumn Etesian winds, being 
preceded by a few days' squally weather, was ascribed 
to the power of Arcturus. Horace says, " a contented 
man is not troubled about the tempests or stars,'* " Nee 
ssevus Arcturi cadentis impetus, aut orientis Hsedi." 

(27.) Nebula, 101 m., 13^ 58'. n. 55°, very faint. 


(28.) : 232 P. xii. Cam., mag. 6, ^. 12^ 48', 84« 
N., dis. 22". 


(29.) .• L Cancri, mag. 5^, 8. 8^ 39', n. 291°, dis. 30". 

One star is orange, the other blue. I have found 
the colours very distinct, even with 2j in. 

(30.) Cluster, 44 m. 8^ 32', n. 20J«. Visible to the 
naked eye, as a little patch of hazy light. The Arabians 
call it Al-m'alaf, " a stall, or den." Aratus tells us, its 
dimness was regarded as a sign of coming rain. 

140 Cancer — Cams Major. 

As the crab walks obliquely, it figures the sun's 
going back, when he has reached his highest north 
point in summer. 

Canes Yenatici. 

(31.) •. 12 Can. Yen. (Cor CaroH), mag. 2J, 6J. 
12^ 50', N. 39«, dis. 20". 

A very pretty object for a small telescope. I am 
able to separate it with a little pocket instrument, ^ in. 
aperture. There is a story that Scarbro', the court- 
physician, gazed at this star the evening before 
Charles II. returned, whence its name. Cor Caroli. 

(32.) Neb. 51 M. 13^^ 24', n. 48«. The wonderful spiral 
neb. in Lord Rosse's telescope. This and the three 
following are fine objects, even in a small instrument. 

(33.) Neb. 94 m. 12'^ 45', n. 41f . 

(34.) Neb. 63 m. 13^ 10', n. 42^«. 

(35.) Neb. 3 m. 13^ 36', n. 29«. 

Canis Majoe. 

(36.) •. v' Can. Maj., mag. 6^, 8. 6^ 31', s. 18J«, 
dis. 17". 

Most, if not all our readers, have gazed with admira- 
tion at Sirius, the lucida of this constellation, and, 
indeed, of the whole heavens. It is mentioned as 
a star by Hesiod, and Homer compares the flashing of 
Achilles' armour to the blaze of the dog-star. The 
Arabians call it Alshira, from Ash-shira-1-yemeniyah, 
" the bright shining star of Yemen," or Arabia Felix. 
Much has been said about the change of colour in 
Sirius, as Seneca and Ptolemy call it a fine red star; 

Canis Major — Capricornus. 141 

and now, any of us who look through our windows in 
the winter months see it as a brilliant white star. At 
what time the change took place we know not. It is 
difficult to reconcile a red hue with Homer's compa- 
rison of the dog-star; and Smyth says the ancients 
used the names of colour with great latitude, so that 
the "rubra canicula" of Horace may allude to heat. 

A pretty triangle of stars appears a little way above 
the soutliern horizon in winter. The uppermost of 
these, S Canis Majoris, is called Wezn, from Al Wezu, 
" a weight," since it seems to rise with difficulty above 
the horizon, as if chained to the ground. To the right of 
this triangle, and far lower down, close to the horizon, 
lies the constellation of Columba Noaclii, " Noah's 
Dove.'' This also consists of a pretty triangle of stars. 
The uppermost, a, I have seen several times ; but the 
lower stars of the triangle I have never perceived 
clearly but once, so low an altitude do they reach in 

Canis Minok. 

Procyon, a Can. Min., is called Procyon from 
TrpoKvcov, "the precursor dog," because it appeared in 
the morning dawn before Sirius. — (Smyth.) In Proc- 
tor's Star Atlas the constellation is called Felis, " the 
cat," displaying unconsciousness of this fact. 


(37.) '. o" Cap. mag. 6, 7. 20^ 22', s. 19«, dis. 22". 

(38.) Neb. 30 m. 21^ 33', s.;23f . A neb. well worth 
looking at. " What an immensity of space is here in- 
dicated. Can such an arrangement be intended, as 

142 Capricornus — Cassiopea, 

a bungling spouter of the hour (Dr. Whewell, of Cam- 
bridge ?) insists, for the mere appendage to the spec of 
a world on which we dwell, to soften the darkness of 
its petty midnight." — (Smyth.) Eesolved into stars 
by Herschel. a Capricorni is a double- star to the 
naked eye, if a good one. "Macrobius says, that as 
the sun approached this sign he quitted his lower 
course, and so the figure of a goat was chosen to repre- 
sent it, because that animal climbs the sides of moun- 
tains. Cancer and Capricorn form the boundaries of 
the sun's course in the zodiac, the portse solis. The 
Platonists held that souls descended from heaven into 
mortal bodies through one, and when released from 
the body re-ascended through that of Capricorn, which 
was called the gate of the gods, as the former was 
called that of men." — (Smyth.) 


7] Cassiopeee has a 7^ mag. companion,'which, though 
9" from the principal star, is most difficult to catch, 
with 2i in. from its purple hue. 

Above the well-known w, of which this constellation 
consists, Tycho's new star burst out in 1572, and, 
after becoming visible in the daytime, dwindled away. 
Prom similar appearances in 945 and 1264, Sir J. 
Herschel fancied a return about 1872. It will be well, 
therefore, to direct our gaze to this part of the sky 
every clear night for a few years t6 come. 

(39.) 30 H VI. Cassiopese will be found a splendid 
cluster of minute points of light. 

Cepheus — Cetus. 143 


(40.) •. /3 Cephei, 21i^ 27'. n. 70«, dis. 14". The 
mag. of the principal star is given by Smyth at 3, by 
Darby at 4^; that of the smaller has been rated at 
7 and 8, " called Alphirk, from Arabian Kawakib-al- 
firk, ' stars of the flock,' which a and ^ were supposed 
to represent. Flocks constituted the natural imagery 
among the nomad tribes." — {Smyth.) 

(41.) •. h Cephei, mag. 4i, 7. 22^^ 24', n. 57f «, dis. 41". 
The chief star varies in brightness. 

(42.) .• ^ Cephei, mag. 5, 7. 22^ 0, n. 64«, dis. 6". 

(43.) .-Up. XXII. Cephei, mag. 6, 6i 22^^ 4', n. 58f «, 
dis. 21". The companion star is very closely double. 

7 Cephei, according to Smyth, would be the Pole- 
star in 2400 years. Its movements, he says, may then 
puzzle the unborn, for it has a decided motion through 


(44.) .• 37 Ceti, mag. 6, 7\. 1^ 8', s. 8f, dis. 51". 

(45.) •. 66 Ceti, mag. 7, 8i 2^ 6', s. 3«, dis. 15i". 

(46.) .. 7 Ceti, mag. 3, 7. 2^ 37', n. 2f «, dis. 2" 6. The 
larger star yellow, the smaller blue. I found the defi- 
nition round and good, with a power of 200 on 2\ in. 
Powers of 100 and 150 shewed it but imperfectly. 

(47.) Neb. 77 m. 2^^ 36', s. Oi". 

There is a star. in Cetus, called o, or, more com- 
monly, Mira, " the wonderful," which shines for a fort- 
night like a second magnitude star; then, diminishing, 
it becomes invisible for five months, and increases again 
for three months. The period is generally 322 days, 
but there are irregularities. 

144 Coma Berenices — Corvus. 

Coma Beeei^ices. 

(48.) .• 24 C. Beren., mag. 5i 7. 12^ 29', n. 19% 
dis. 21". The larger star orange, the other emerald. 

(49.) Neb. 84 h i. 12^^ 30', n. 26f . Why is it omitted 
by Smyth ? 

(50.) Neb. 64 m. 12^^ 50', n. 22\\ 

(51.) Neb. 53 m. 13^^ 7', n. 19«. 

(52.) Neb. 92 h i. 12^ 28', n. 284«. 

(53.) Neb. 85 m. 12^^ 18', n. 19«. 

(54.) Neb. 83 h i. 12^ 25', n. 27«. 

The mythological origin of the constellation C. Beren. 
(Berenice's hair) is, that it was to console a lady for 
the loss of a lock of her hair, which had been dedi- 
cated to Venus, on account of a victory of her hus- 
band, Ptolemy Euergetes. 


(55.) .• fCor.Bor., mag. 5, 6. 15^ 34', n. 37«, dis. 6". 

(56.) •. a- Cor. Bor., mag. 6, 6i. 16^ 10', n. M\\ 
Forty years ago, we should have gazed in vain at this 
star with a 2^ in. Its distance then was scarcely 
over 1". Now it is over 3", and I find it easy with 
a power of 100. It is a binary star, but the period 
is uncertain. 


(57.) •. 3 Corvi, mag. 3, S\. 12^ 23', s. 15|°, dis. 24". 
I have often found the little companion very hard to 
catch, from its dark hue, and the brightness of the 
principal star. 

Crater — Belphinus, 145 


One star, 17, of this constellation, mag. 5i, 7,*dis. 9", 
ought to be seen with a moderate instrument, but it is 
very low on the horizon. 


(58.) •. p Cygni, mag. 3, 7. 19^ 25', n. 27|«, dis. 
34'\ The larger star, yellow; the companion, blue. 
The colours stand out in beautiful contrast even with 

(59.) .• 61 Cygni, mag. 5i 6. 2P 1', n. 38«. Thirty 
years ago the distance between the two stars was 16'', 
• now 19J". One of the nearest stars in the sky to us. 

(60.) .• 16 Cygni, mag. 6i, 7. 19^ 38', n. 50i«, 
dis. 37". 

(61.) .• tju Cygni, mag. 5, 6. 21^^ 38', n. 28i«, 
dis. b\'\ 

(62.) •. 278 p XIX. Cygni, mag. 6, 8. 19^^ 41', n. 34|-«, 
dis. 39". 

(63.) .• 276 p XIX. Cygni, mag. 8, 84. 19^^ 41', 
N. 35f«, dis. 15". 

(64.) •. X Cygni, mag. 5, 9. 19^^ 41', n. 33i«, 
dis. 26". 


(65.) •• 7 Delphini, 20^ 41', n. 15f , dis. llf. A 
very pretty object in a small telescope. All our works 
on double-stars give the magnitude at 4, 7. On Dec. 
13, 1862, I found them almost equal, and so they 
still remain. 

(66.) .. 178 p XX. Delphini, mag. 7i 8. 20^ 25', n. 
10J«, dis. 14". 


146 Draco. — Gemini. 

{^7.) \ ^ Draconis, mag. 5i 6. 17^ 44', n. 72J«, 

dis. 3r. 

(68.) •. 40 Draconis, mag. 5i, 6. 18^ 10', n. 80«, 
dis. 20". 

(69.) : /A Draconis, 17^ 3', n. 54f°. The distance, 
forty years ago, was 3V', now 2J''. Smyth and Webb 
give mag. 4, but Dawes more properly says 6 mag. 
This I find to be the case, the star being but just 
visible to the naked eye. 

a Draconis was once brighter than it is now. " It 
is called Thuban, from the Arabian, al thuban, 'the 
Dragon,' upwards of 4,600 years ago the Pole-star of 
the Chaldseans. In that remote age, it must have 
remained stationary, though it is now 25*^ from the 
Vol^r— {Smyth.) 


(70.) .• 355 p XX. Equulei, mag. both S\. 20^ 46', 
N. 6|-°, dis. 40". 

(71.) .• 55 Eridani, mag. both 7\, 4^ 37', s. 9«, dis. 
10". Some have thought Eridanus was originally in- 
tended to indicate the Nile. 


(72.) •. a Gemin. (Castor), mag. 3, 3i. 7^ 26', n. 32i«, 
dis. now 5f", forty years ago it was 4f". The amateur 
will find it to be the finest double-star in our northern 
hemisphere. The period in which one component re- 
volves round the other is not quite certain. Bradley 

Gemini — Hercules. 147 

gives us their position in 1719. " Among the orientals, 
Gemini was represented as a pair of kids, denoting 
that part of spring when these animals appear, but the 
Greeks changed them to two children/' — (Smyth.) The 
Arabians drew them as a couple of peacocks. Their 
religion prevented them drawing the human figure. 

(73.) •. 15 Gemin., mag. 6, 8. 6^^ 20', n. 21°, dis. 33". 

(74.) •. 20 Gemin., mag. 8, 84, 6^^25', n. 18°, dis. 20". 


(75.) .• a Herculis, mag. 34, 54. 17^ 9', n. 144°, dis. 
44 '• Owing to the flare, I find this fine object trouble- 
some, except on very quiet nights, with a small tele- 
scope. Hercules is represented on the maps and globes, 
as a man kneeling. Some have fancied this indicates 
the bruising of the serpent's head. 

(76.) -./c Hercules, mag. 54, 7. 16^^2',n. 17i°,dis.3r. 

(77.) : 100 Herculis, mag. both 7. 18^^ 2', n. 26°, 
dis. 14". 

(78.) : S Herculis, mag. 44, 8. 17^ 10', n. 25°, dis. 
19" now. Formerly it was wider, about 26", forty 
years ago. The companion being a dull grape colour, 
I only get it by glimpses with 2^ in. 

(79.) .• p Herculis, mag. 4, 54. 17^ 19', n. 37|°, 
dis. 3f' . 

(80.) •• 95 Herculis, mag. 54, 6. 17^56', n. 214°, 
dis. 6". 

(81.) Neb. 13 M., 16^^ 37', n. 36f°. This is a superb 
object; just visible to the naked eye as a spot, on 
a dark night. It was noticed by Dr. Halley in the 
early part of the last century, and he admits there 
may be more. 

148 Hercules — Libra. 

(82.) Neb. 92 m., 17^' 13', n. 42\\ Even brighter 
in the centre than 13 m., but not quite so large. 

Hyde A. 
€ Hydrse, mag. 4, SJ, dis. 4" now, and widening; 
also 108 p VIII. Hydrse, mag. 6, 7, dis. 10" ; and neb. 
68 M., in this constellation, should be caught by a small 


(83.) •• 82 Lacertse, mag. both 6i 22^ 30', n. 39«, 
dis. 23". 


(84.) •• 7 Leonis, mag. 2, 4. 10^^ 13', n. 20\\ dis. 
3" now, formerly less. The colours are orange and 
yellow. A binary star, period perhaps 1,000 years. 

(85.) Neb. 95 m., lO'^ 37', n. \2\\ Just discernible 
with 2|in. 

{m,) Neb. 65 and 66 m., W 13', n. 13f«. Two 
nebulae of an elongated form. 

(87.) Neb. 13 h i., 10^' 59', n. Of. 

The longitude of Regulus, the lucida of Leo, has 
been made a step for ascertaining the recession of the 
equinoctial points through successive ages. 

(88.) Neb. 79 m., 5^^ 19', s. 24f . 


(89.) Neb. 5 m., 15^ 12', n. 24°. A splendid heap 
of stars. 

a Librae will be seen by an opera-glass to have 

Libra — Lyra. 149 

a companion, called Kiffa Australis, from the Arabian, 
al kifFah-al-jeniibiyah, " the southern scale." ^ Libr^ 
is of a peculiar green colour. A Chaldsean observation 
of the approach of Mars to this star, is recorded in the 
476th year of Narbonassar, or 271 B.C. Called Kiffa 
Borealis, from al-kiffah-al-shemaliyah, " the northern 


It is very difficult to find an object here, there being 
no bright star to point to. Those who would examine 
the Lynx ought, said old Hevelius, to be lynx-eyed. 
(90.) .• 12 Lyncis, mag. 6, 7\. 6^ 35', n. 59i«, 

dis. sr. 

(91.) .• 19 Lyncis, mag. 7, 8. 7\ 12', n. 554«, 
dis. 14r. 


(92.) .•; 6 Lyrae, mag. 5, 64 ; 5, 6\. 18^ 40', n. 39i«. 
Dis. of the first pair, 3" ; of the other, 2^'. To a very 
sharp eye, or to an opera-glass, there is a pair of stars, 
and on examining these with the telescope, both come 
out double. One pair will be found closer than the 
other, but both form a very pretty object for a mode- 
rate instrument. 150 on 2^ in. has exhibited both 
very plainly to me. e and its wide companion are con- 
sidered to be connected. Smyth tells us, ''it may be 
roundly stated that b will revolve around A in 2,000 
years, c take a circuit round d in half that time ; per- 
haps both systems may go round the central ones in 
something less than a million years. But what is this 
to the annus magnus of the whole creation." 

150 Lyra — Ophinchus. 

(^3.) .• ^ Lyr^, mag. 3, 8. 18^^ 45', n. 33i«, dis. 46". 
The larger star varies a magnitude in brightness. 

(94.) .• ? Lyr», mag. 5, 5J. 18^ 40', n. 374«, dis. 44". 

(95.) .. 7) iyrse, mag. 5, 9. 19^^ 9', n. 39«, dis. 28". 
Though the companion is 9th mag., it is just discernible 
with 2^ in. 

(96.) Neb. 56 m., 19^ 11', n. 30«. Faint with 2iin. 

(97.) Neb. 57 m., 18^ 49',. n. 33«. The celebrated 
ring neb. Of course this figure will not be seen with 
a small instrument. 


(98.) '. 8 Monoc, mag. 54, 8. 6^ 17', n. 4J«, dis. 13". 

(99.) .: 11 Monoc, mag. 64, 7, 8. 6\ 23', s. 7«, dis. 
7" and 94'' from the principal star. With a powerful 
instrument. Sir W. Herschel calls this one of the most 
beautiful sights in the sky. 


(100.) •. 53 Oph., mag. 6, 8. 17^ 28', n. 9J«, dis. 41". 

(101.) : 39 Oph., mag. 54, 74- 17^ 10', s. 241«, 
dis. 12". 

(102.) .. 61 Oph., mag. both 74. 17'^ 38', n. 2|-«, 
dis. 21". 

(103.) .• 67 Oph., mag. 4, 8. 17^ 54', n. 3«, dis. 55". 

(104.) .. 70 Oph., mag. 44, 7. 171^ 59', n. 24^ dis. 4i" 
now, formerly wider. It is a binary star, the revolu- 
tion about 90 years. Other periods have been ima- 
gined. In 1779 Herschel found the two component 
stars on the parallel. This star is considered difficult 
of observation, from the rings of light about it. 

(105.) Neb. 12 m., 16^ 40', s. lf«. 

Ophinchus — Orion, 151 

(106.) Neb. 10 M., 16^ 50', s. 4«. 
(107.) Neb. 19 m., 16^^ 55', s. 26«. 
(108.) Neb. 14 m., 17^^ 31', s. 3i°. 
All the above nebulae will be found pretty bright, 
and well worth inspecting. 


(109.) :•. e Orionis, Neb. and multiple star, 5^^. 29', 
s. 5^°. Ptolemy and Tycho marked 6 a 3rd mag. star. 
A small telescope, with a power of 100, reveals four 
stars resting on, and surrounded by, a misty glow of 
light. The mag. of the stars are 6, 7, 7i, 8. Power- 
ful instruments shew more than four stars here : some 
observers make 9 or 10. Two years ago the fifth star 
was said to have been detected by telescopes of only 
3 in. aperture, so it may be variable. This splendid 
nebula seems to have been first noticed by Huygens 
in 1656. 

(110.) •: 0- Orionis, mag. 4, 8, 7. 5^ 32', s. 2f°, dis. 
12" and 42". Triple to a small telescope ; but Struve, 
with the Dorpat refractor, reckoned eighteen stars in 
the group; and Schroeter, with a 25 feet reflector, 
could see twelve. 

(111.) •. B Orionis, mag. 2,7. 5^ 25', s. OJ^ dis. 53". 
The uppermost of the three conspicuous stars called 
Orion's belt. Called Mintaka, from Mintakah-al-jauza, 
" the giant's belt.'' The belt has been called Jacob's 
Staff, the Three Kings, the Ell and Yard, &c. 

(112.) •. 23 Orionis, mag. 5, 7. 5^ 16', n. 3i«, 
dis. 32". 

(113.) •. X Orionis, mag. 4, 6. 5^ 28', n. 9f , dis. 4i". 

(114.) Neb. 78 m., 5^ 40', n. 0\ 

152 Orion — Perseus. 

Two bright stars, a and 7, form the shoulders of 
Orion, a is called Betelgeuze, from Ibt-al-jauza, "the 
giant's shoulder." " Hood says, The reason this fellow, 
Orion, was placed in the heavens, was to teach men not 
to be too confident in their own strength. The Uni- 
versity of Leipsic proposed to call the belt and sword 
of Orion by the name of Napoleon. Was that learned 
body in possession of a copy of Tom Hood's Treatise?" 
— (Smyth.) 

y Orionis, a fine red star, is called Bellatrix. Its 
gender, feminine, puzzled Hoode, who knew not why 
it should be feminine, " except that women born under 
this constellation shall have mighty tongues." 

(115.) .• 3 Pegasi, mag. 6, 8. 21^^ 31', n. 6«, dis. 39". 
(116.) .• 216 p XXIII. Pegasi, both 8^. 23^. 46', 

N. iiJ-«, dis. isr. 

(117.) Neb. 15 M., 21h 24', n. 114«. A conspicuous 

f Pegasi is called Homam, from Sad-al-homam, " the 
hero's happy star" of the Arabians. Included in the 
" fortunate stars ;" a group so called, because they ap- 
pear to the Bedouin Arabs at the dawn of day as 
spring comes on. 


(118.) .• 97Persei, mag. 5, 84. 2M1', n. 55i«, dis. 28". 

There are nine stars in a group about here, and 
some are said to form a miniature representation of 
Jupiter and his satellites. 

(119.) .. 220 p II. Persei, mag. 6, 8. 2'^ 52', n. 51|«, 
dis. 124". 

Perseus — Sagittarius. 153 

(120.) •. near 12 Persei, mag. 7i 8. 2\ 34', n. 39f , 
dis. 23". 

(121.) Great cluster, 33 h vi. 2^^ 10', n. 56i«. Visi- 
ble to the naked eye. With a low power, the telescope 
is filled with myriads of stars. 


(122.) .• ^/r Piscium, mag. both 6\, 0^ 59', n. 20|°, 
dis. 30". 

(123.) .• a Piscium, mag. 5, 6. l^ 55', n. 21°, dis. 
3:^" ; called Okda from 'okda-al-khaitain, a " knot of 
the two threads.*' 

(124.) •. 100 Piscium, mag. 7, 8. 1^ 28', n. llf^ 
di,s. 16". 

(125.) •. ^Piscium, mag. 6, 8. 1^ 7', n. 6f, dis, 23". 

(126.) •• 77 Piscium, mag. 74, 8. 0^ 59', n. 4|«, 
dis. 32". 


(127.) Neb. 71 m., 19^ 48', n. 184«. 

^fu.ctolt Libmiy 


(128.) •. 54 Sag., mag. 5i, 8. 19^^ 33', s. 164«, 
dis. 28". 

(129.) Neb. 22 m., 18^ 28', s. 24°. A fine round 
mass of stars. It attracted attention as far back as 

(130.) Neb. 28 m., 18^ 17', s. 25«. 

(131.) Neb. 17 M., 18^' 13', s. 16f°. More properly, 
in Scutum Sobieski. 

(132.) Neb. 20 m., 17^^ 52', s. 23°. 

154 Scorpio — Taurus. 


A beautiful constellation, which glitters low in the 
south in the brief interval of the summer nights. 

(133.) •. 13 Scorpii, mag. 2, 5^. 15^ 58', s. 194«, 
dis. 13". 

(134.) .• V Scorpii, mag. 4, 7. 16^ 4', s. 19«, dis. 40". 
With a very good telescope, the smaller star is double 
also. As Herschel and Smyth do not speak of this, 
it must have come out since their time. 

(135.) Neb. 4 m., 16^ 16', s. 26{^, 

a Scorpii, a brilliant red star, is called Antares, 'Av- 
Tdp7)9, i.e. rivalling Mars in splendour. Scorpio is 
seen, says Sherborne, to crawl towards our meridian 
at midnight about the end of May. 


(136.) .• e Serpentis, mag. 44, 5. 18^ 50', n. 4«, dis. 
22". A very small instrument makes this a pretty 
pair. I have seen it well with a deep eye-piece fitted 
to a small pocket-telescope. 

(137.) •. 8 Serpentis, mag. 3, 5. 15^ 29', n. 11«, dis. 
3|". Binary. 

(138.) Neb. 4 h. i., 10^ 8', n. 4«. 


(139.) •. <j) Tauri, mag. 6, 84. 4^ 12', n. 27«, dis. 56". 
(140.) •. X Tauri, mag. 6, 8. 4^ 15', n. 25i«, dis. 19". 
(141.) .• 62 Tauri, mag. 7, 84. 4^ 16', n. 24«, dis. 29". 

Taurus — the Pleiades. 155 

(142.) .• 257 p IV. Tauri, mag. 7, 8. 4^^ 52', n. 14i«, 
dis. 39". 

(143.) Neb. 1 M., 5^ 27' n. 22«. Called the crab neb. 
Resolved into stars by Lord Rosse. It was discovered 
by Messier in 1758, while observing a comet. 

4,000 years ago Taurus led the celestial signs, and 
was their leader for 2,000 years. The chief star, Alde- 
baran, the hindmost, because he drives the Pleiades 
before him, is a bright red one. It is situated in 
a group of stars, called the Hyades, precisely in the 
form of the letter V. The group was called T-psilon, 
the Pythagorean symbol of human life, from its shape. 
Next in the group to Aldebaran, comes 6 Tauri, which 
the naked eye shews to consist of two ; and enormously 
apart as they are, they are suspected of physical con- 

P Tauri is figured on the tip of the horn of Taurus, 
and so at the greatest distance from the hoof. This 
has been thought to give rise to the phrase of not 
knowing b from a bull's foot. 

The Pleiades is a cluster of stars in Taurus of even 
greater interest than the Hyades. Much attention 
has been directed to them in latter years, from the 
discovery of a supposed variable nebula in them. Al- 
cyone, the brightest of the Pleiades, (round which the 
whole visible creation has been supposed to be moving) 
is called by the Arabians Jauza, " the walnut." Homer 
speaks of six stars in the Pleiades. Hipparchus men- 
tions seven. A small telescope readily shews a hun- 
dred. The Pleiades are meutioned by Job, between 
three and four thousand years ago. They have been re- 
presented in ancient times as full-grown women, and as 

156 The Pleiades — Ursa Major. 

a bunch of grapes. Hesiod, nearly 1000 B.C., has 
a passage on the Pleiades, which is thus rendered 
by Cooke : — 

" There is a time when forty days they lie, 
And forty nights concealed from human eye ; 
But in the course of the revolving year, 
When the swain sharps the scythe again appear." 

(144) '. X Trianguli, mag. 5i, 7. 2^ 5', n. 29f^ 

dis. 3r. 

(145.) Neb. 33 m., P 27', n. 30°. A very large ob- 
ject, but faint. 

TJesa Major. 

(146.) .• ? Ursse Maj., mag. 3, 5. 13^^ 19', n. 35f , 
dis. 14-i-". One of the finest objects in the sky. The 
colours are white and emerald. Noticed in the year 
1700 by Godfrey Kirch, and his wife Mary Margaret. 
A little distance from ^ the naked, eye perceives a small 
star, called Alcor. This is, of course, very widely sepa- 
rated in the telescope. Alcor is called by the Persians 
Saidak, " the test," a test of vision in their latitude, 
where the Great Bear lies low on the horizon. The 
Arabians have a proverb, '^ Thou canst see Alcor, but 
thou canst not see the full moon." 

(147.) Neb. 81 m. and 82 m., 9^^ 45', n. 69f«. Very 
near together. 

(148.) Neb. 97 m., 11^^ 7', n. 55|-«. Pale, but large. 
From its curious appearance in Lord Eosse's telescope, 
it has gained the name of the owl nebula. 

Ursa Minor — Virgo. 157 

' Uksa Minoe. 

(149.) •• TT Urs9o Min., mag. 6, 7. 15^ 37', n. 81«, 
dis. 30". 

a Ursse Minoris, generally called the Pole-star, is 
a rare test for a telescope between 2 and 3 inches in 
aperture, the companion being of barely the 9th mag. 
I have been able to glimpse it with 2\ in. The Pole- 
star has been called Kotb, '* a spindle," as the con- 
stellation is swung round the Pole. Its use in navi- 
gation seems to have been known to the Phenicians. 


(150.) : 7 Yirginis, mag. 4, 4. 12^ 35', s. Of«. If 
we had gazed at this object in the year 1836, we should 
have found it round, but since then its companion has 
so far come out, as to be distant 44''. The revolution 
of one star round the other is performed in something 
under 200 years. Cassini, in 1720, witnessing an oc- 
cultation of it, by the moon, saw one star disappear 
30" before the other. 

Hipparchus compared the place of Spica Virginis 
with what Timocharis and Aristyllus had laid down 
170 years previously, and from this, lie ascertained 
that the equinoctical points had gone backward. 

e Virginis is called Vindemiatrix in the Alphonsine 
tables, an adaptation of the longer word Provindemi- 
ator, a translation of TrpoTpvyijrrjp, given to the star 
because it rises in the morning just before the vintage. 
" It is called Mukdira-al-kitaf, ' the forerunner of the 
vintage,' among the Arabians." — {Smyth) 

If the amateur will pass his telescope over the 

158 Virgo — Vulpecula, 

northern parts of Virgo, and over Coma Berenices, 
many nebulae will enter the field of view, but gene- 
rally very faint. 

Five of these nebulse I have found more conspicuous 
than the rest. 


(151.) .• 320 p XIX. Vulp., mag. both 7. 19^ 48', 
N. 20«, dis. 43". 

(152.) Neb. 27 m., 19^ 54', n. 221". A very fine 
object, known from its figure by the name of the 
"dumb-bell "neb. 

Note on Aries. — Aries is marked by a neat triangle 
of three stars. The sun's place at the time of the 
Crucifixion was undoubtedly in the head of Aries. It 
may have been divinely ordered that during the mira- 
culous darkness, these three stars should be seen close 
to the sun. They were said by the ancient Greeks to 
contain the name of the Deity, and to be a most 
Divine emblem. It may not, then, be going too far, 
to see in the stars a /3 7 Arietis an emblem of the 
blessed Trinity. The mathematical student may be 
interested by a pamphlet in the library of the Eoyal 
Astronomical Society, entitled " Creed of S. Athana- 
sius proved by a Mathematical Parallel." The writer 
says in his preface : " It is appalling to see so many 
depart from the Church, or remain dissatisfied, be- 
cause the powers of their minds are not comprehensive 
enough to understand how that most beautiful com- 
bination of heavenly power and grace can exist, as 
set forth in the Creed. As we generally rest more 
satisfied on any point above the comprehension of our 

Design of the Stars. 159 

weak understandings, when we can bring into juxta- 
position a parallel proof to support it, and as this will 
shew clearly to the mathematician that such a com- 
bination as that expressed in the Creed can take place 
with mathematical accuracy and magnitude, who that 
understands this can for a moment doubt the essence 
of the Omnipotent Deity, or the attributes of the 
blessed Trinity ?" 

Many celestial sights, in this way, may be caught 
sight of by means of a small instrument, and, with 
every increase of telescopic power, more and more stars 
come into view, of whose existence we were absolutely 
ignorant till the invention of the telescope. From the 
Creation to the time of Galileo mankind were only 
acquainted with a thousand or two of the heavenly 
bodies, not the most infinitesimal portion of the whole 
universe. For what purpose, then, were all these 
enormous globes created ? Certainly not to cast any 
light on our earth. Another moon, hundreds of times 
smaller than our own, would have done that better. 
Not to ornament our nocturnal skies, since all but 
a very few are too faint to be seen by our unaided 
eyes. Look at our own solar system. See what means 
there are for giving light, the further we recede from 
the sun. We have but one moon; Jupiter has four, 
Saturn eight, and so on. See the provision we behold 
for other races of animated beings. If vast worlds were 
dreary wastes, without intelligent life, would this be 
consistent with the wisdom and beneficence of the Crea- 
tor ? . Matter is evidently framed for living creatures ; 
otherwise there is no purpose in it. Whether we are 
the only race of intelligent beings that have sinned, or 

160 Design of the Stars. 

whether our Lord's sojourn in this world will benefit 
other worlds, we cannot conjecture ; for " now we know 
in part, but hereafter we shall know, even as also we 
are known/' 

'^ all ye works of the Lord, bless ye the Lord : 
praise Him, and magnify Him for ever.'* — Benedicite. 

Note. — In the case of the foregoing double stars, 
the dots simply indicate their relative positions; the 
actual magnitude of the two components, and the dis- 
tance by which they are separated in space, being 
stated immediately afterwards. 

^ritti^b bg %^mt% ^mhx anb Cfi., (Cwfott'jiarb, ©rforb. 



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ox EY